The legislation will work toward dividing the waters between Nevada and California, enhance conditions for endangered fish throughout the Truckee River, increase drought protection throughout the Truckee Meadows and improve overall water quality.
Parties involved include the United States government, the states of Nevada and California, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and the Truckee Meadows Water Authority.
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who was present to sign the legislation, said he has been working on this agreement since his election in 1986.
“When asked what was my most important issue,” Reid said to the more than 200 people in attendance, “I said ‘water.’ “
Since then, the now-Senate Majority Leader said he has collaborated with many key leaders to finally achieve the signing of this legislation. One key leader is Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of the Interior, who was also present at the signing ceremony.
“This was a 100-year water war,” Kempthorne said. “And today is a celebration.”
Also present at the ceremony was Mervin Wright, chairman of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, who stressed the importance of the collaboration efforts that went into the drawn-out legislation.
“I believe we all understand each other’s demands and we all understand each other’s existence,” Wright said. “Water is life, without it, there is no life. We must do out best to share it.”
Signers of the legislation included Wright, United States Assistant Attorney General Ronald Tenpas, California Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman, Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Director Allen Biaggi and Truckee Meadows Water Authority Board Chairman Mike Carrigan.
Details of landmark water deal
By Martin Griffith - Associated Press Writer
RENO — The Truckee River Operating Agreement allocates the river’s waters between the two states, and balances the interests of urban users, downstream farmers and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.
The Truckee flows more than 100 miles from the California side of Lake Tahoe to its terminus at Pyramid Lake on Nevada’s high desert, about 30 miles northeast of Reno.
Under the agreement, California will get two-thirds of Lake Tahoe’s water to Nevada’s one-third, while Nevada will receive 90 percent of the Truckee’s water to California’s 10 percent. It also calls for Nevada to get 80 percent of the Carson River’s water to California’s 20 percent.
California and Nevada approved an interstate compact on the Truckee’s waters in the early 1970s, but it was never ratified by Congress.
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne hailed the new agreement, saying it was similar to ones reached in recent years over the Colorado and Snake rivers. He stressed that no one surrendered any water rights under the latest deal.
The deal stemmed from Sen. Harry Reid-sponsored legislation passed by Congress in 1990 that directed both states, the U.S., the tribe and the Reno area’s water purveyor to settle their differences over the river.
Lawsuits over the Truckee spanning back to the 1800s gave it a reputation for being one of the West’s most litigated rivers.
Under the settlement, the amount of drought water storage for the Reno area will triple, and Reno, Sparks and Washoe County will provide water rights to improve water quality in the lower Truckee. The river system is the Reno area’s only water source.
Officials said the agreement will improve conditions for the threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout and endangered cui-ui fish, as well as for Nevada wetlands. It also will enhance recreational opportunities in both states.
A final environmental study by the U.S. Department of the Interior and California Department of Water Resources found no significant adverse impacts from the agreement.
The document concluded the settlement would provide a major boost to the river’s water quality and fishery.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said they expect the agreement to be implemented in two or three years after court decrees concerning the Truckee’s water are modified to include its provisions.
Thousands of covered-wagon pioneers followed up the Truckee on their way to California’s gold fields in the 19th century.