2014 Summer Specialty Conference: Integrated Water Resources Management: From Theory to Application
Field Trip


Truckee River Tour
Sunday / June 29 / 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Cost: $49.00 per person

Field Trip MapCoordinators:

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 Great Basin.

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 restoration.

Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake - 1867, Timothy O'Sullivan and Pyramid Lake - 2010, Beatrix Varga

Tour Leader

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.

Tentative Itinerary

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 for Reno-Sparks).
Brief stop at Boca to discuss water rights, Floriston Rates, river regulation.
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 decline)
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 BOR ok)
Stop at McCarran Ranch for riparian restoration visit (pending TNC ok)
Depart Derby or McCarran for Reno
Arrive back at hotel.