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Operating Criteria and Procedures for the Newlands Reclamation Project, Nevada (OCAP)

Background - The Newlands Project, one of the first projects built by the Bureau of Reclamation, is currently operated by the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District (TCID) through a contract with Reclamation. The Project has approximately 60,000 irrigated acres and two divisions:

What is OCAP?     

The OCAP is a federal rule that lays out how Reclamation’s Newlands Project is operated. Its main purposes are:

  • To ensure legitimate Newlands Project water rights are served
  • To regulate the timing and amount of water that can be diverted out of the Truckee River to serve Newlands Project water rights
  • To minimize the use of the Truckee River and maximize the use of the Carson River

See the expanded list of what the OCAP does.

Who administers the OCAP?
The Lahontan Basin Area Office of the Bureau of Reclamation administers the OCAP, in consultation with TCID, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Federal Water Master

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Why are operating criteria (OCAP) needed?

Newlands Project operating criteria are needed so the Secretary of the Interior can meet responsibilities, as fairly as possible, to various entities on the Carson and Truckee rivers including irrigators, tribes, wetlands, and fish and wildlife. Nevada is the driest state in the country and there is competition for the limited supply of Truckee River water. Truckee River water is a supplemental supply for irrigation on the Newlands Project, which receives most of its water from the Carson River. The significant decline in Pyramid Lake, a terminal lake at the mouth of the Truckee River, due partly to diversions for Newlands Project purposes, made it necessary for Reclamation to institute operating criteria for the Newlands Project. The OCAP limit Truckee River diversions to only the amount needed to serve Project water rights.

Other OCAPs

Prior to 1967, diversions out of the Truckee River into the Truckee Canal were limited only by the capacity of the canal, which can carry a flow of about 950 cubic feet per second. At times, diversions were made for the sole purpose of generating power at Lahontan Dam. These unlimited diversions contributed to the approximately 80-foot decline in the level of Pyramid Lake between 1900 and 1967. The first operating criteria, which placed restrictions on Truckee River diversions to the Newlands Project, were put in place in October 1967 and reinstituted annually through the 1972 water year. In response to court actions, various operating criteria were implemented until the 1988 OCAP were put in place. They were the first operating criteria to allow water credits or impose water penalties on the irrigation district, depending on the efficiency of their water conveyance. These operating criteria remained in place until the current OCAP were implemented in December 1997.

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What effect have the OCAP had?

The OCAP have placed limits on diversions from the Truckee River and contributed to the increase in Pyramid Lake level. The lake was at an elevation of about 3,807 feet in October 2007, 23 feet higher than its 1967 low point of 3,783.9 feet. The Newlands Project has exceeded the efficiency target every year between 2000 and 2005 (the last year for which figures are available). Even with a reduced supply from the Truckee River, irrigators have had a 100 percent water supply available since 1995, in spite of some dry years between 2000 and 2004, and 2007.

1997 OCAP; CFR Part 418

Operating Criteria and Procedures for the Newlands Reclamation Project, Nevada 

For additional information or assistance please contact:

Tom Scott
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
705 North Plaza St., Suite 320
Carson City, NV 89701
775-884-8357 (office) 775-882-7592 (fax)

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Expanded List of What the Newlands Project Operating Criteria and Procedures (OCAP) do

The Newlands Project OCAP:

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Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view, download Adobe Acrobat Reader.


For additional information or assistance, please contact:
Kenneth Parr, Area Manager
705 N. Plaza Street, Room 320
Carson City NV 89701
775- 882-3436

Interactive Graphic of the Truckee River Basin - click to learn more
The Truckee River Basin