TMWA Says Water Outlook Is Good - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

TMWA Says Water Outlook Is Good

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The Truckee Meadows Water Authority says this year's water supply is like night and day, compared to last year. Snowpack numbers were a little above average in the Sierra, and that has given the water supply a chance to rebound, after four years of drought.

"Basically, everything in the system will fill except Stampede, but that's going to make a nice recovery," Bill Hauck, TMWA Senior Hydrologist said. "Tahoe is still climbing, expect maybe another foot."

Lake Tahoe is nearly nine inches above its natural rim. Hauck says that will allow normal flows in the Truckee River, which are expected through September. The water situation shows how quickly the water supply can change. Last May, the Truckee River flows were already well-below average.

"We had 100% snowpack, this year, and that's what happens," Andy Gebhardt, TMWA Director of Customer Relations said. "We rely on Mother Nature."

The additional water means customers are not being asked to reduce their outdoor water usage by 10%. They are encouraged to practice responsible conservation, including watering on their designated days. People with even numbered addresses can run their sprinklers on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Residents with odd numbered addresses can water their lawns on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Nobody is allowed to water on Mondays.  Gebhardt expects residents to be cautious with their watering habits, and even thinks many will continue last year's cutbacks.

"If you cut back on your watering, last year, and your lawn looked good and you saved money, then why are you going to turn it back up? If you ripped that lawn out and put a patio in or put a barbeque pit in, you're not going to rip that out and put lawn back in," Gebhardt said.

Some Reno residents agreed, saying they plan on saving water, despite the wet winter.

"I know I will," Dan Lukkari said. "We live in a high desert, so you should conserve."

Experts say that is not necessary though. TMWA has only had to use drought reserve in four years since 1985. More drought reserves were used last year, than any year on record. This year is much different. Thanks to the weather and new river management guidelines, more water is being stored than ever before. TMWA recently purchased the rights to all of Donner Lake's storage, and can store 65% more water than they did last year. In fact, TMWA cannot store any more water than it already is.

"We're storing everything we possibly can upstream, right now, for next year because we don't know what next year is going to bring," Hauck said.

Hauck says Truckee Meadows residents are not only in great shape for this year, but also for next year. TMWA uses 3-8% of the Truckee River's water, but residents are still encouraged to use water, responsibly.

"We want to be good neighbors, just like everybody else," Gebhardt said. "So, this benefits the downstream agriculture users, Pyramid Lake. It benefits everybody when we have good snowpack like this."

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