Welcome to the MS4

MS4 stands for the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, commonly known as the Storm Drain System, which is made up of all infrastructure that conveys stormwater, including curb and gutter, pipes, ditches, channels, and conveyances.

What is Stormwater?

Stormwater includes any runoff produced by a storm event, snow melt runoff, surface runoff and drainage.

What is Stormwater?

Stormwater includes any runoff produced by a storm event, snow melt runoff, surface runoff and drainage.

What is Stormwater?

Stormwater includes any runoff produced by a storm event, snow melt runoff, surface runoff and drainage.

What is a Storm Event?

A precipitation event that results in a measurable amount of precipitation.


BMPs can be a number of actions taken to reduce pollution that could be associated with stormwater.


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Best Management Practices (BMPs)

BMPs can be a number of actions taken to reduce pollution that could be associated with stormwater.

Stormwater Academy

The Truckee Meadows Storm Water Permit Coordinating Committee (TMSWPCC) is responsible for implementing the Truckee Meadows Storm Water Management Program to protect the water quality of the regions waterways, streams and the Truckee River. Training agency maintenance staff to incorporate best management practices and prevent pollutants from reaching the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) is an important part of that effort.

Truckee River Map Tool

Truckee River Watershed Map

In the interactive watershed map we can trace the beginnings of our local creeks’ flows and see how all of us are connected through waters feeding the Truckee River. Then explore creeks by using your mouse to click where you want to explore on the map.

View Watershed Tool Here!

Truckee River Watershed

Map of the Truckee River and surrounding water bodies in Nevada

The Truckee River is the sole outlet of Lake Tahoe, and travels 140 miles through Northern California and Nevada, draining 3,120 square miles of land (the Watershed) into Pyramid Lake. That includes all of the light green colored land shown on the map! Throughout the Truckee River Watershed, dozens of creeks/tributaries, drainages, and storm drains contribute to the River, collecting stormwater from the mountains, Truckee Meadows, and high desert, as well as runoff directly from the Town of Truckee and Cities of Reno and Sparks.


The Truckee River is one of Nevada’s most significant natural and cultural resources, delivering 80% of all drinking water to residents in the Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County areas, and it’s the only significant source of water to Pyramid Lake, a sensitive and valuable “desert terminus lake.” The River provides a significant contribution to the annual agricultural water needs of the Fernley and Fallon areas, including the Lahontan Reservoir. Additionally, the River provides a rich source of habitat for many species of plants and wildlife, supporting fishing and countless other recreational activities along the river.


Explore our Watershed Map to learn more!

Watershed Map Server – created with support of the Truckee River Fund

Why is restoration important on the Lower Truckee River?

Going back through time, through the 1950’s and 1960’s, the health of the river ecosystem was not understood, and was not considered a priority in management practices. Relatively modern science has shown that old practices were very damaging to the ecosystem.

Historically, the major concern surrounding our local streams and river water was flooding. Because all of our outdoor water (rain, snowmelt, and over-watering runoff) runs down into the creeks and river, the common belief among engineers was that we needed to get it out of our community as quickly as possible. Water was seen as a liability. It could flood homes and cause damage to streets and other infrastructure, the community feared. As a result, the Truckee River was historically straightened and channelized. The curves were taken out of it, and it was put into a straight line to move water through before flooding occurred.

How Rivers Run... and how the Truckee was affected?

Agencies like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as local and state agencies, now understand that the river is a dynamic system. This dynamism means that the river behaves like a river: it flows, meanders, jumps over the banks, forms gravel islands, and floods. Plants growing along the river not only look pretty and provide habitat for fish, bugs, birds, and mammals, but they help hold the banks together in large flows, and take up nutrients (like those in fertilizers) from the water, providing some cleansing to our river.

When the river was straightened, the dynamic water still wanted to take its twisty, torturous route. As a result, the water carved out the new banks and caused erosion. When the upstream cities developed, they sent more runoff water downstream immediately after storms. The river began to receive large pulses of high-energy water. This water carves out the bottom of the river, or “incises” it, causing more erosion to happen.

With all of the erosion that has happened in our river, the water levels dropped too low, and plants growing on the banks could no longer keep their roots in the water in the lower reaches. Much of the riverside (or riparian) vegetation died and the riparian forest went away. Downstream, the river’s end, Pyramid Lake, receives our river water and all of our runoff and sediment from erosion also. This is of concern to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and others interested in protecting threatened and endangered fish and other species which rely upon clean river water and spawning gravels.

What are we doing to restore the river?

Simple, yet large-scale projects can help us to restore the river’s benefits. The City of Reno, City of Sparks, The Nature Conservancy, and other partners embarked upon a long-term restoration project for the Lower Truckee River. With help from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Cities obtained a large grant ($9 million, from the Desert Terminus Lakes fund) and is working with other agencies to restore the lower river in a series of projects. The Nature Conservancy has been instrumental in designing and managing construction of restoration projects along with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, providing construction management and guiding the projects.

This is the list of projects included on the BOR grant, with McCarran Ranch being the first completed and monitored for effectiveness. The first five projects of the eleven named are: McCarran Ranch, 102 Ranch, Lockwood, Mustang Ranch and Below Derby Dam.

As you will find on the links above, these projects include reconnecting plants with the river, slowing the water down to allow for the riverine forest to regrow, providing bank stabilization and nutrient uptake, and recreating a balanced habitat for sensitive species on our lower river.