Water district managers come together at Good Morning Truckee

With the Sierra Nevada snowpack gone roughly a month earlier than normal and the state gripped in drought conditions, the Truckee-Tahoe area’s water supply took center stage during Tuesday’s Good Morning Truckee meeting.

General managers from the region’s water districts came together for the meeting, offering information on local water conditions following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s July 8 call for Californians to reduce their water use as part of a regional drought state of emergency.

“The realities of climate change are nowhere more apparent than in the increasingly frequent and severe drought challenges we face in the West and their devastating impacts on our communities, businesses and ecosystems,” Newsom said in a news release. “The entire state is in a drought today, and to meet this urgent challenge we must all pull together and do our part to reduce water use as California continues to build a more climate resilient water system to safeguard the future of our state. We’re proud of the tremendous strides made to use water more efficiently and reduce water waste, but we can all find opportunities this summer to keep more water in reserve as this drought could stretch into next year and beyond.”

Locally, the area’s largest provider, serving roughly 14,000 customers, is the Truckee Donner Public Utility District. The district’s supply is from the Martis Valley aquifer.

A district representative said it isn’t experiencing a water shortage, but that the community should monitor usage.

“Everyone should always conserve water,” said Truckee Donner Public Utility District General Manager Brian Wright. “We need to be responsible stewards of our resource and use water responsibility in terms of our irrigation practices and our internal-use practices.”

Wright added the district’s main replacement program has resulted in 1 million gallons of water per day being saved.

“That sounds staggering, but really what that is, it’s about 650, 600 gallons per minute that previously would be either unaccounted for or lost through leaks and we reduced that through our consistent and aggressive water main replacement program.”


As a whole, the Maris Valley groundwater basin has a sustainable yield of 22,000 acre feet per year. Currently, total groundwater pumping in the basin is approximately 6,400 acre feet per year. That number is projected to increase to 13,000 by 2035.

“Our basin is very rich and it’s been proven through science that it can sustain long-term drought based on our current usage,” said Wright. “That doesn’t mean that we as a community or as a region need to just throw caution to the wind on our water usage. It still means we need to be responsible in our use and preserve that sustainability and store that for future use.”

The Northstar Community Services District gets its water from Big Springs, Sawmill Flat Springs, and Sawmill Lake. It also pulls water from a pair of wells.

Northstar Community Services District General Manager Mike Staudenmayer said its wells have proven to be drought resistant in past years, and added that the district has also implemented advanced leak detection and text alerts to customers as another means of saving water.

“The days of showing up to your cabin on Christmas and to open your door to find an ice castle inside due to a water leak are no longer happening because of technology like this,” said Staudenmayer.

The Olympic Valley Public Service District has been in the area since 1964, and is dependent on precipitation to fill its aquifer. The district has a budget of $8.2 million and primarily supplies water for snow making, golf course irrigation, and filling the needs of peak tourist days in the area. General Manager Mike Geary said the water supply starts getting refilled during early winter storms, and maxes out around May with the most crucial time of the year coming in July and August.

“Those are critical months for us, and we’re watching aquifer levels very carefully at that time,” said Geary.

The district has implemented a number of measures to conserve water, including a groundwater management plan, leak detection programs, and a pay structure that rewards individuals for using less water. The district has also looked at a redundancy measure that would involve a joint trench between Truckee and Olympic Valley. The cost of installation, according to Geary, would be between $25 million and $30 million.

Going forward, the Truckee Chamber of Commerce, the town, and the Truckee Donner Public Utility District will address potential power outages, hosting a meeting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. To register, visit

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643

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