Project Area Description
Truckee River System
The Truckee River System originates at Lake Tahoe, where inflows provide the initial water supply for the system. When water levels at Lake Tahoe are above the natural rim (6,223 feet above sea level), outlet gates in Tahoe City, California regulate outflows to the Truckee River. From the Lake Tahoe Dam, the Truckee River flows 105 miles before terminating in Pyramid Lake, Nevada. Pyramid Lake is one of the few desert terminus lakes in the world.
There are four reservoirs operated by the federal government in the Truckee River System. Constructed by Reclamation and operated under the direction of the Federal Water Master, these reservoirs regulate the inflows to the Truckee River, providing both flood control and drought storage. Boca, Stampede, and Prosser Creek Reservoirs are the largest reservoirs in the Truckee River System. Collectively, they have approximately 297,400 acre-feet of storage capacity and regulate inflows from the Little Truckee River and Prosser Creek. The fourth reservoir, Martis Lake, provides additional storage capacity and regulates flows from the Martis Valley near Truckee, California.
Truckee River Operating Agreement
The Truckee River Operating Agreement (TROA) implements Section 205(a) of Public Law 101-618. The law directs the Secretary of the Interior to negotiate an agreement with Nevada and California to allow for more operational flexibility and increased efficiency in the Truckee River Basin. Through these efficiency gains, the TROA allows for more upstream drought storage opportunities to meet downstream municipal and industrial water demands, while maintaining sufficient flows to support fish habitat throughout the basin. TROA is expected to be implemented in 2016.
What is the Newlands Project?
The Newlands Project, formerly known as the Truckee-Carson Project, was one of Reclamation’s first projects. Constructed in 1903, the project provides irrigation water from the Truckee and Carson Rivers to the lower Carson Valley near Fallon (Carson Division) and bench lands near Fernley (Truckee Division). The drainage basins contain nearly 3,400 square miles, with a combined average annual runoff of about 850,000 acre-feet of water. Construction began in 1903 on the Derby Diversion Dam and the Truckee Canal. In addition, the project serves wetlands water rights at Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, Carson Lake and Pasture, and the Fallon-Paiute Shoshone Indian Reservation. Overall, the project delivers water to approximately 60,000 acres of lands with active water rights, with alfalfa being the region’s primary crop.
Truckee River water is diverted at the Derby Diversion Dam into the Truckee Canal for use in the Newlands Project, as provided in Claim No. 3 of the Orr Ditch Decree and the Operating Criteria and Procedures (OCAP). Completed between 1903 and 1905, the Canal extends about 32 miles through the Truckee Division of the project to Lahontan Reservoir. Water diversion from the Truckee River to the Lahontan Reservoir is limited by the Orr Ditch Decree and OCAP.
The Lahontan Reservoir, located southwest of Fallon, Nevada, is the only major reservoir on the Carson River. It has a maximum storage capacity of 320,000 acre-feet and covers approximately 10,600 surface acres when full. Inflows to the reservoir are from the Carson River and the Truckee Canal. Since 2012, severe drought in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and western Nevada has reduced inflows to the Lahontan Reservoir. Due to drought conditions, the water storage in the reservoir has steadily declined over the past four years. In August 2015, the recorded storage was 5,905 acre-feet.
Water released from the Lahontan Reservoir is ultimately delivered to water right holders throughout the Lahontan Valley via Newlands Project ditches and canals. Remaining instream flows terminate in the Carson Sink.
The Lahontan Dam has two hydropower stations, which generate 1.9 and 4.0MW, respectively. TCID owns and operates the 4.0MW facility.
Lahontan Reservoir also provides public recreation opportunities such as boating, fishing, and sightseeing. The State of Nevada manages the Lahontan State Recreation Area surrounding the lake.
Who is the TCID?
The Truckee-Carson Irrigation District (District) was formed in 1918 as a political subdivision of the state of Nevada to represent water right holders within the boundaries of the Newlands Project. Since 1927, the District has been responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Newlands Project, including the Truckee Canal. The District receives funding from land owners within the Newlands Project who own water rights appurtenant to their lands. The district boundary cover approximately 120,000 acres in Churchill ands Lyon counties, of which about 73,000 are water righted.