TMWA Buys Water Rights For Donner Lake

Jan 6, 2016

Credit Amy Westervelt

Truckee Meadows Water Authority now has complete ownership of Donner Lake's storage rights. As Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports, the lake is another important drought reserve for the region.

Since the 1940s, TMWA and its predecessor, Sierra Pacific Power, has owned one half of Donner Lake's water rights in California. The other half belonged to the Truckee Carson Irrigation District, made up mostly of Fernley and Fallon-area farmers.

But last month the irrigation district agreed to sell its stake in Donner to TMWA to the tune of $17 million.

Mark Foree is general manager of TMWA and says the lake further bolsters the agency’s drought supply.

"It's not a big lake; it's a little less than 5,000 acre feet, but it's an important lake because it fills nearly every year. The only year it didn't fill was last year when we had the worst year in history."

The sale was prompted by the signing of the landmark Truckee River Operating Agreement, which settles decades-old conflict over water rights and storage in the region.

Foree says the deal should be finalized in just a few weeks.