Lack of water temporarily grounds Tahoe City rafting companies
After opening for summer operations on June 26, Tahoe City’s rafting companies have been run aground by low water levels on the Truckee River.
Since the area’s two rafting companies — Truckee River Rafting and Truckee River Raft Co. — began seasonal operations last month, the Federal Water Master has slowed the flow from Lake Tahoe into the Truckee as downstream demands are being met and lake levels are just below the maximum legal elevation of 6,229.1 feet.
Last Monday the flow rate coming from the Lake Tahoe Dam dipped below 200 cubic feet per second, meaning the river would be unsuitable for rafting.
“Fingers crossed for a very short hiatus so we can get y’all back on the river to enjoy the mighty Truckee River under the warm Tahoe sun,” Truckee River Raft Co. posted to its Facebook page.
Both companies said they will refund reservations made for days they are unable to operate on the river, and neither was given an exact timetable for when more water will be spilled from the dam.
In order to offer self-guided trips along the roughly five-mile stretch of river from Tahoe City toward Alpine Meadows, flow rates need to be between 200 to 400 cubic feet per second. As of Wednesday, according to the Federal Water Master’s daily worksheet, there was an average flow rate of 73.7 cubic feet per second coming from the dam, while Lake Tahoe’s elevation was measured at 6,229.01 feet. The flow rate at Farad, which dictates whether substantial water will be spilled from the dam, was measured at 651 cubic feet per second. That rate will have to dip below 500 cubic feet per second before more water is released from the dam, which would then allow the rafting outfits to get back on the river.
As of Thursday, the two companies are operating on a day-to-day basis with hopes of soon returning to the water.
“I’m sure August will be fine,” said Truckee River Rafting Owner Richard Courcier during an earlier interview with the Sierra Sun. “We’ll definitely be open all of August and Labor Day.”
The July closure for the companies is typical for the summer operating season, which often includes times when there is either too much or too little water being spilled from the dam for suitable rafting conditions.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.