Reno-Sparks Residents Asked to Cut Outdoor Water Use - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Reno-Sparks Residents Asked to Cut Outdoor Water Use

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After three years of drought, the Truckee Meadows Water Authority is asking customers to reduce outdoor water use by 10%.  That means that if you water for 10 minutes, to cut that down to nine minutes and avoid watering between 11 AM and 7 PM.
"It's been 20 years since we've asked them but we expect them to pitch in and we expect to achieve the conservation we're looking for," Mark Foree, TMWA General Manager said.

Foree says some customers have already started conserving water. Water usage is down from the peak on July 3, when 120 million gallons of water were used. With 93,000 households, cutting watering by 10% could save enough to cover 2,000 acres in a foot of water.

"The water that we save this summer and fall, we can use that next summer if the drought continues," Foree said.

Foree says Lake Tahoe is doing better than expected, despite being just 0.9 feet above its natural rim. Drought supply reservoirs are full and ready for times like these.

"It's similar to the drought we had in the early '90s," Foree said. "That was the tail-end of an 8-year drought. So, it's really similar to that but we have drought reserves for a reason. We hold them in reserve for when we need them."

Truckee River flows will likely drop below 150 cubic feet per second, later this week. That's when we will start to use those reserves. While rain helps a little, a wet winter is what we really need to turn our water situation in the right direction.

"We can have a few to several years of very dry weather patterns and that's followed by one or two years that fill everything up," Foree said.
Foree says there are no plans to go back to a 2-day water schedule. He says studies show people don't use less water compared to the current 3-day schedule and they like it better because they can be more flexible with water usage.


From TMWA:

Frequently Asked Questions: Drought and Water Supply Update

Overview:  Water customers are now being asked to reduce their outdoor water use by 10% and not water from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  We are asking our customers for additional, voluntary conservation, because TMWA is now to releasing water from its upstream drought reserves.  Fortunately, TMWA has planned for these types of dry cycles and is using upstream and groundwater drought reserves to meet customer demands. Now is the time when our customers can make a difference by conserving water and reducing their outdoor water use by 10%, which will help minimize the amount of water we need to release from reserves.

Is this for all customers?

Yes.  We are asking for a 10% reduction in outside water use from all of our customers – homes, businesses, homeowner’s associations, apartments, etc. We are all in this together.  And, with a small reduction in everyone’s water use, we will have plenty of drought reserves, should we need them next year.

Why didn’t TMWA ask for more conservation earlier in the summer?

The good news is that TMWA’s drought supply reservoirs – Donner and Independence Lakes – have been full. With no room in our reservoirs, TMWA had no place to store additional conserved water. We have planned to use our drought reserves as late in the summer as possible and ask our customers for their help in conserving when it counts, which is when we are actually releasing our reserves. TMWA continues its three-day- a-week watering schedules throughout the summer and encourages everyone to use water responsibly. Our customers have always been diligent about conservation and are encouraged to keep up the good work.

Why only focus on outdoor watering?
The average customer’s water use is approximately four times higher in the summer, due to outdoor water use. Customers have a great conservation ethic and are already very efficient using water indoors. So, focusing on outdoor water use is where we can get the biggest impact in water savings.  For tips on how you can achieve 10% water savings, go to

Why 10%?
Projections show a 10% reduction in water use during late summer will allow TMWA to keep Independence Reservoir full this year, and result in robust drought reserves for next year, should the dry cycle continue.

Why is there no watering from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.?
The no-watering times will be expanded,  from noon - 6 p.m.,  to 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.  In the Truckee Meadows, this time of the day is typically the hottest and windiest when more water is lost to evaporation. It is also one of the measures to be deployed when river flows are impacted before Labor Day (as cited in TMWA’s 2010-2030 Water Resource Plan).

What happened to the flows in the Truckee River?
Reservoir releases from Lake Tahoe and Boca Reservoir (which are not TMWA drought reserves) are required to meet mandated river flows at the CA/NV state line. These releases are administered by the Federal Water Master under court decrees from the 1940’s. Water levels in Lake Tahoe and Boca Reservoir are no longer sufficient to meet required minimum flows; as a result, the Truckee River has begun to drop off. TMWA is now making releases from our drought storage reservoirs (Donner and Independence Lakes) to supply water to our treatment plants. In other words, much of the water presently in the Truckee River is drought reserves set aside to meet the community’s needs.

How much water do we get from the Truckee River?
The amount of water that TMWA draws from the Truckee River is probably a lot less than you would think. Typically, TMWA meets more than 85 percent of our annual customer demand using the Truckee River. Yet, in the aggregate, TMWA is the smallest major user on the river system, only using eight percent during a dry year and three percent in a normal year.

How is the Truckee Meadows prepared for a drought?
Drought is a natural occurrence in the high desert and this community is well prepared. We are fortunate to have a robust supply system of upstream reservoirs and underground reserves available for use during dry years. Groundwater supplies are also enhanced and protected each winter when TMWA injects approximately five million gallons of treated water per day through its wells into the groundwater aquifer for future drought-year use.

TMWA plans for dry years.  Our staff continually monitors weather and snowpack conditions and plans for a nine-year dry weather cycle, which is one year longer than the worst drought on record. For a deeper look at TMWA’s resource planning, the “2010-2030 Water Resource Plan,” was adopted by the TMWA Board of Directors in 2009. Portions of the plan are incorporated into the Regional Water Management Plan which is maintained by the Western Regional Water Commission.

In addition, this is a community that has always focused on water conservation, not only in dry years, but in plentiful years. The average household is using 15 percent less water than 10 years ago. Our citizens have always valued our precious water resources and conservation.

Assigned-Day Watering details:
Assigned Day Watering is in effect. As a reminder, each home or business has three days to water each week. If the last number of your home or business address is even (0, 2, 4, 6, 8), please water on Tuesday, Thursdays and/or Saturdays.  If the last number of your home or business address is odd (1, 3, 5, 7, 9), water only on Sundays, Wednesdays and/or Fridays.  Please don’t water on Mondays, as it is a day of rest for the water system, giving it a chance to recharge.  Please do not water from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Keep in mind weather-wise watering:  water deeper and less often; water at cooler times of day to avoid high temperatures; never water when it is windy; and reduce watering in the fall to help lawns and plants go dormant.

Why don’t we go back to Twice a Week Watering to save water?
Twice a week watering restrictions are not needed at this time.  There are adequate drought reserves for the remainder of this summer, and projections show the 10% conservation target we are requesting will result in healthy drought reserves at the beginning of next summer.

How will the conservation rules be enforced?
We are serious about encouraging responsible water use and preventing waste. If you see water being wasted, please let us know and call the conservation department at 834-8005. Those customers who waste water will be contacted. We will also have staff patrolling seven days a week during the watering season who will look out for water waste, as we have done for many years.

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