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Truckee Storage Project
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Truckee Storage Project History (71 KB) (pdf)
General Description| Plan| Development| Benefits


General Description

The Truckee Storage Project was constructed to provide a supplemental supply of irrigation water to approximately 29,000 acres of land in the Truckee Meadows surrounding Reno and Sparks, Nevada. Boca Dam and Reservoir, the major feature of the Truckee Storage Project, was constructed by the United States and is operated by the Washoe County Water Conservation District.

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Supplemental water provided by the Truckee Storage Project is stored in Boca Reservoir on the Little Truckee River and released for better regulation of the Truckee River according to the Truckee River Agreement. The ditch companies which form the Washoe County Water Conservation District divert and deliver irrigation water, while 7 subdistricts maintain control and administration.

Facility Descriptions

Boca Dam and Reservoir on the Little Truckee River store water for Truckee River regulation and irrigation of lands on the Truckee Storage and Newlands Projects. The reservoir has an active capacity of 40,900 acre-feet. The dam, completed in 1939, is a zoned earthfill structure 116 feet high, with a crest length of 1,629 feet.

Operating Agencies

The project is operated by the Washoe County Water Conservation District. Storing water in Boca and Lake Tahoe, in the Newlands Project (http://www.usbr.gov/dataweb/html/newlands.html), is regulated in accordance with the provisions of the Truckee River Agreement, to which the United States, the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, the Washoe County Water Conservation District, and the Sierra Pacific Power Company are parties. This agreement was made to stabilize and supplement the natural flow of the Truckee River, for which Donner Lake storage also is available. The Truckee-Carson Irrigation District and the Sierra Pacific Power Company have acquired storage rights in Donner Lake for joint use and Truckee River regulation. Donner Lake on Donner Creek has a capacity of about 9,500 acre-feet.

The Truckee River Agreement includes criteria for operating Lake Tahoe and Boca Reservoir to meet flow targets (the Floriston rates) on the Truckee River. Reduced flow targets (reduced Floriston rates) are put in place when the level of Lake Tahoe is low. Lake Tahoe in the Newlands Project (http://www.usbr.gov/dataweb/html/newlands.html) and Boca Reservoir in the Truckee Storage Project are operated to maintain these Floriston rates. Also, under the Truckee River Agreement, up to 25,000 acre-feet of water can be stored in Boca each year under a Newlands Project Truckee River diversion right. Washoe Project (http://www.usbr.gov/dataweb/html/washoe.html) flood control operations are coordinated with flood control operations at Boca Reservoir. Otherwise, the Washoe Project is operated independently of the Truckee Storage Project and the Newlands Project.


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Irrigation of lands in the Truckee Meadows began as early as 1858 with diversions from small streams. Settlement and irrigation of the valley progressed on an individual or community effort basis until there were 31 separate diversions in 20 miles along the Truckee River, beginning about 13 miles above Reno. The demand for irrigation water in western Nevada after 1900 resulted in water appropriations in excess of summer flows of the river. Further development of the irrigable area of about 29,000 acres depended upon a supplemental storage supply. This necessity resulted in the construction of a small storage dam prior to 1920 by private parties at a location near the present dam.


The Federal Government made the first investigations for irrigation of the Truckee Meadows in connection with the project, then known as the Truckee-Carson Project. In 1927, Reclamation began investigations to determine the quantity of water available for storage development, and locate a storage site. Further work followed that led to organizing the Washoe County Water Conservation District in June 1929, and consummation of the Truckee River Agreement on July 1, 1935.

This agreement, through which water users from the Truckee River system sought to conserve the waters of Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River and its tributaries, established regulations for the maintenance of minimum rates of flow in the river during winter months, provided for development of pondage for reregulating fluctuations in streamflow occasioned by the operation of privately owned hydroelectric powerplants, and provided for development of a minimum of 40,000 acre-feet of supplemental storage on the Little Truckee River by the Washoe County Water Conservation District.


The President approved the project for construction on September 21, 1935, under section 4 of the act of June 25, 1910 (36 Stat. 835), and under subsection B of section 4 of the act of December 5, 1924 (43 Stat. 701). Funds for construction were made available under the provisions of the National Industrial Recovery Act.


Construction of Boca Dam began April 24, 1937, and was completed before the irrigation season of 1939.

Recent Developments

The current control and beneficial use of the Truckee River are the result of a long history of constructing and managing water storage and diversion facilities. The operating constraints of these facilities are defined by the exercise of water rights, court decrees, agreements, and regulations. Some key operating constraints include the Truckee River General Electric Decree, Truckee River Agreement, Orr Ditch Decree, Tahoe-Prosser Exchange Agreement, Newlands Project Operating Criteria and Procedures (OCAP), and the Preliminary Settlement Agreement (PSA). The PSA, entered into in 1989 by Sierra Pacific and the Pyramid Lake Tribe, is an agreement to change the operation of Federal reservoirs and the exercise of Truckee River water rights to (1) improve spawning conditions for the Pyramid Lake fishes and (2) provide additional M&I water for the Reno-Sparks area during drought periods. Many provisions of the PSA have not yet been implemented and will be implemented only through the Truckee River Operating Agreement (TROA).

The Truckee River Operating Agreement is expected to be completed in late 2000 after almost 10 years of negotiation. TROA will allow more flexible use of a series of Truckee River reservoirs, resulting in an array of new benefits including:

  1. Substantial drought protection for the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area
  2. Municipal and industrial storage to aid Fernley
  3. Improved instream flows in the Truckee River
  4. Improved recreational levels in California reservoirs
  5. Federal storage contract revenues dedicated to wetlands restoration and fish recovery
  6. A permanent interstate allocation between California and Nevada of the waters of the Truckee and Carson Rivers and Lake Tahoe
  7. Release of the Pyramid Lake Tribe`s economic development fund which, with interest, is now over $50 million.

Boca Reservoir is one of four Federal reservoirs that will have modified operations under TROA. The others are Lake Tahoe, Stampede Reservoir and Prosser Reservoir.

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Alfalfa, meadow hay, and pasture are the most important crops grown on irrigated lands of the project in support of a thriving livestock and dairy industry. Next in importance are feed grains, followed by potatoes, onions, and truck crops.


Boca Reservoir (http://www.recreation.gov/detail.cfm?ID=30) on the Little Truckee River provides public recreation facilities for camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, and hunting, along with other recreational activities. The area is under administration of the Forest Service.


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Last updated: May 17, 2011