Water master needs flexibility | SierraSun.com

Water master needs flexibility

The federal water master, who oversees the Lake Tahoe dam, should be able to operate the dam for flood control in emergency situations.

Currently, the water master does not have any flexibility in operation of the dam. When the lake appears as if it will exceed the maximum limit of 6229.1 feet allowed by law, Stone must let as much water as possible out of the Lake Tahoe dam.

If Stone had been able to shut the gate of the dam during the New Year’s Flood, it may not have helped decrease the millions of dollars worth of damage from flooding in Truckee, Reno and Sparks. But it may have saved a bridge or two between Squaw Valley and Truckee.

It also might make a great impact in a future flood – one that is less severe and more easily controlled.

If the water master had been able to shut the dam’s gates for one or two days in January, it would have raised the level of Lake Tahoe only 1/10th of a foot. That would have pushed the lake over its maximum limit, but even the confining words of the 1935 Truckee River Compact said the water master is supposed to keep Lake Tahoe below 6229.1 feet “insofar as possible.”

The lakeshore residents of Lake Tahoe should be able to accept the lake rising a small degree in order to save the properties of their neighbors on the river.

Garry Stone, the current federal water master, has been unfairly accused of not managing the Tahoe dam properly. That criticism should be directed at the court rulings which govern him concerning the dam’s operation and those on the Truckee Basin Water Committee – Sierra Pacific Power Company, the Washoe County Water Conservation District and the Truckee Carson Irrigation District – which instructs him to keep the lake’s level at 6227 at the start of winter.

Negotiations are ongoing about the future operation of the Truckee River. Those who are crafting the Truckee River Operating Agreement should allow the federal water master to practice flood control at Lake Tahoe in certain emergency situations.

– Tahoe World

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