The Truckee River straddles the U.S. states of California and
Nevada. Flowing northeasterly 121 miles (195 km), the Truckee
is the sole outlet of national treasure Lake Tahoe. Draining part
of the high Sierra Nevada it terminates into Pyramid Lake in the
The Truckee River's rich history parallels that of the American
West and its story reads like a Mark Twain novel, chronicling
the fate of a river basin as western society evolved. The river
is the heart of the Newlands Project, the very first project of
the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and all its attendant controversies.
The struggle for reliable water supply, environmental needs, and
public safety has pushed many of the parties into multiple conflicts,
negotiations, and even litigation.
During this field trip, we will explore the river basin and absorb
its unique hydrology, and rich history. Throughout the journey
we will dive into the controversy of western water development,
experience the majesty of Lake Tahoe and Pyramid Lake, and learn
about the recent watershed protection, integrated water planning
and management for public safety, economic development, and environmental
Pyramid Lake - 1867, Timothy O'Sullivan
and Pyramid Lake - 2010, Beatrix Varga
Janet R. Phillips, P.E., is our tour leader and provides
much of the content of the course, especially during time spent
on the bus. Janet has a Bachelor's degree in economics from Stanford
and a Master's in Water Resources Engineering from UCLA. Her career
has centered on the Truckee and Carson Rivers, first as assistant
Federal Water Master and later as Water Policy and Planning Director
for Sierra Pacific Power Company, the water purveyor for Reno-Sparks
until 2001. Her passion for the Truckee River is expressed today
in leading an effort to create a pedestrian and bike trail along
the entire length of the River.
Guest Speakers (TBD) will join us at stops, and may include experts
from USGS, DRI, Washoe County, Pyramid Lake Tribe, TMWA, Fish
& Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy.
Participants should wear sturdy shoes and hats as we will be
walking to our sites and the weather in June in Nevada is usually
warm and sunny. Be sure to bring a camera too!
|Depart Reno from the hotel and drive up Mt.
Rose Hwy. (Topics en route: history of irrigation, water rights,
ditches; stop at Tahoe view; topics along lake include erosion
control, low Tahoe level, water quality, boat inspections
against invasive aquatic species)
|Arrive Tahoe Dam to discuss Tahoe operation,
especially drought, invasive weeds
|Depart Tahoe for Boca/Stampede-discuss watershed
restoration en route, with detour to either: Coldstream Canyon
(erosion mitigation project) or Donner Lake (drought storage
Brief stop at Boca to discuss water rights, Floriston Rates,
|Arrive Stampede via Boca; walk out to Lake for
discussion of negotiated settlement.
|Arrive in Verdi for historic hydropower tour
and box lunch.
|Depart Verdi for Pyramid Lake via Pyramid Highway
(topics en route: Orr Ditch Decree, T/E fish, Pyramid Lake
|Arrive Sutcliffe to see video of fish spawning
by Tribe (pending PLPT ok)
|Depart Sutcliffe, drive along Lake and lower
Truckee River (topics in route: maintaining flow in lower
river, receding lake benches & tufa, Fernley land use
changes from irrigation to residential)
|Either of These Site Visits:
Stop at Derby Dam to discuss diversions and fish passage (pending
Stop at McCarran Ranch for riparian restoration visit (pending
|Depart Derby or McCarran for Reno
|Arrive back at hotel.