The agreement for divvying up water from the Truckee River was formally recognized last week, ending decades of negotiation and litigation.
Officials gathered for a news conference to mark the full implementation of the Truckee River Operating Agreement and publicly acknowledge the benefits of the water pact.
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who has called the agreement one of the most significant issues he has worked on, was slated to attend last Tuesday’s event, but his flight from Las Vegas was canceled. In 1990, with Reid shepherding the way, Congress approved the Truckee-Carson-Pyramid Lake Water Rights Settlement Act, which called for the main parties claiming a stake in the water to strike an agreement on managing and dividing the resource.
Those parties—the United States, the state of Nevada, the state of California, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and the water utility for Sparks and Reno, the Truckee Meadows Water Authority—actually signed the agreement in 2008, but legal challenges delayed the agreement’s full implementation. Those legal challenges have since been resolved.
Sparks Mayor Geno Martini, chairman of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority board, called the agreement a positive move for Northern Nevada’s water picture.
“I don’t think everybody got everything they wanted,” Martini told the Sparks Tribune. “Some got a little more than others. That’s the only way issues like this get put to bed. Down the road I think everybody will be pleased that it’s done.”
The historic agreement ends legal fights, doubles the amount of water in upstream reservoirs for drought supplies for Reno and Sparks and provides certainty for the allocation of water from the river and Lake Tahoe between states of Nevada and California. Nevada, under the agreement, gets 90 percent of the water flowing in the Truckee River while California owns two-thirds of the water in Lake Tahoe.
The pact also provides for enhanced conditions in the river basin for Cui-ui and Lahontan Cutthroat Trout fish populations in Pyramid Lake.
Other benefits of the agreement, according to the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, include:
Improved flexibility of river operations to accommodate changing circumstances, policies and values while protecting historic water rights from injury.
Increased recreational opportunities.
Improved riparian habitat.
Improved water quality through flow augmentation and retiming of flow.