Truckee River to remain low near Tahoe City
Summer months on Tahoe’s North Shore mean opportunity to raft the Truckee River, but with flow rate requirements being met downstream — due to one of the wettest springs on record in the Reno area — there likely won’t be much water flowing from the Lake Tahoe Dam during the next couple of weeks.
“We have to meet the Floriston rates,” said Federal Water Master Chad Blanchard on amount of water released from the dam. “Those rates of flow have to be met year-round, and if natural flow is meeting them, we can not release water from storage.”
Floriston rates are the rates of flow of the Truckee River at Floriston, according to the California State Water Resources Control Board, which requires a mean flow of 500 cubic feet per second from March 1 to Sept. 30.
Blanchard said it’s likely more water will be released from the lake in two to three weeks, which will still be sooner than last year. He stressed that projection is highly dependent on weather. Blanchard also stated he expected to spill significant water even earlier, but a wet spring has kept the river flowing at more than the required rate.
“In spots it’s been the third wettest spring since 1888,” said Blanchard.
The flow rate at the Farad Station was measured at 651 cubic feet per second as of Wednesday, June 6, according to the water master’s daily worksheet.
Lake Tahoe’s elevation also plays an important factor in the release of water from the dam. Tahoe’s maximum elevation is set at 6,229.10. The lake was measured at 6,229.03 feet on Wednesday, according to the water master’s daily worksheet. Currently one of the dam’s 17 gates is open.
Significant water was released from the dam, however, on Memorial Day weekend due to inflows into the lake. The release gave Tahoe City’s two rafting companies — Truckee River Rafting and Truckee River Raft Company — a chance to open for two days of rafting on the Truckee.
Last year, the two companies got rafters on the river in early July, but had a limited time to operate due to runoff from last year’s heavy winter keeping flow rates above the required level.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@Sierrasun.com.