Learn about Stormwater and Watersheds
What is Stormwater?
What is a
Best Management Practices (BMPs)
Watch and Learn
Stormwater Academy (Construction & Public Works)
Truckee River Water Quality: Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
Re-Know Minute: Stormwater
Carson River Watershed – Watershed Education Video Library
The Carson River Watershed is the Truckee River Watershed’s neighbor to the south. Check out Carson Water Subconservancy District’s (CWSD) Youtube channel for an extensive library of videos covering watershed science, pollution prevention, floodplain management, climate change, and much more
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.
The Truckee Meadows Stormwater Program conducts a robust stormwater sampling program, sampling over 15 sites throughout the Truckee Meadows during both storm runoff events and normal base flow. Local creeks and large storm drain outfalls are sampled prior to entering the Truckee River and analyzed for a standard suite of contaminants. Long term data analysis is used to track trends in improving (or worsening) water quality, determine our region’s compliance with the MS4 Permit, and help inform decisions on future water quality improvement projects. Check out the Annual Stormwater Monitoring Reports for full report findings.
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.
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.
Learn about recent SWPCC Watershed Projects and their progress below.
Chalk Creek Subwatershed
Increased runoff from urbanization has increased the hydromodification rate and led to severe erosion at some sites along Chalk Creek. In the 2020 Watershed Plan for Tributaries to the Truckee River, Chalk Creek was listed as a high priority for implementation, and in 2020, the NDEP 319(h) Grant was utilized to kick start the Chalk Creek Stabilization and Erosion Control at Sapphire Ridge Project. Please check back for project progress and a future construction schedule.
McKinley Arts & Cultural Center Demonstration LID Project
Keep an eye on our calendar for upcoming events or view our volunteer opportunities.