Snowmelt will fill reservoirs to near limits
Lake Tahoe and Truckee reservoirs will be filled to the brim this summer after the fifth wet winter in a row.
“It should turn out to be an exceptional water year with exceptional lake levels,” said Garry Stone, the federal watermaster.
The California Department of Water Resources measured the Sierra snowpack April 1, finding the snowpack to be 146 percent of a long-term average.
Using snowpack data, the federal watermaster – using court decrees governing water rights – has set the course of Lake Tahoe’s level and the flow of the Truckee River for the spring and summer months.
The National Resource Conservation Service has figured that there is enough spring run-off to raise Lake Tahoe’s level by 2.1 feet, Stone said.
“We’ve got room for about one foot,” he said.
The lake level Wednesday was at 6,227.95 elevation feet.
The legal limit for the reservoir storage on top of Lake Tahoe is 6,229.1 elevation feet, while the natural rim of the lake is 6,223 elevation feet.
In order to lower the lake enough to hold the spring run-off, the watermaster will be releasing from the Lake Tahoe dam about 400 cubic feet per second into the Truckee River during April and up that to just under 600 cubic feet per second in May, June and July.
However, the weather can change the scenario dramatically.
“We’re kind of at the mercy of Mother Nature,” said Stone.
Last spring, a wet and rainy June forced the watermaster to increase the flows of the Truckee River to nearly 1,800 cubic feet per second, which is high enough to flood the Truckee River Bicycle Trail.
The reservoirs around Truckee – Prosser, Boca and Stampede – have been at their flood control levels, but are slowly being filled again as of last weekend, he said.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Nevada County is now likely to remain in the red tier barring “extenuating circumstances,” thanks to changes to the state’s reopening blueprint announced this week.