Beyond Tahoe: Exploring Our Waterways

We often hear news stories about Lake Tahoe covering all of the latest research findings and environmental initiatives impacting our Jewel of the Sierra. While certainly important, Tahoe isn’t our only waterway.

That’s why Reno Public Radio has been visiting, researching, and producing in-depth profiles on several other bodies of water to highlight the unique assets they offer our region, along with the complex challenges they face.

We delve below the surface for our series Beyond Tahoe: Exploring Our Waterways to take a look at Pyramid, Donner, and Independence Lakes, along with the Truckee River and Sparks Marina. You'll find all of our local stories, plus web extras like photos and videos, below on this page. 

And did you know...

…Donner Lake contains high levels of chemicals used in flame retardants, fertilizers, and pesticides?

… Pyramid Lake and Walker Lake are sister systems and remnants of the Pleistocene Lake Lahontan that used to cover most of northwestern Nevada?

…the Truckee Meadows Water Authority almost tapped its last resort reservoir—Independence Lake—this summer, which hasn’t been done in decades? Ultimately, voluntary conservation and the lucky timing of just a few rainstorms prevented that from happening.

…at just over 120 feet deep, Sparks Marina holds about a billion gallons of water? Initially, it was supposed to take up to 5 years to fill this hole, but the New Year’s Day Flood of 1997 filled the marina in just a couple of days.

…the organization Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful regularly finds all sorts of stuff in the Truckee River—everything from grocery carts and shoes to used diapers? And if the Truckee River's low water level has you alarmed, check out this video update on the situation:

The Nature Conservancy

Independence Lake is just north of Truckee but is perhaps one of the last hidden gems of the Sierra. It’s pristine, quiet, and it serves as Reno’s last resort water supply—all reasons why more than twenty agencies are partnering to preserve it. For our series Beyond Tahoe: Exploring Our Waterways, KUNR News Director Michelle Bliss heads to this small, relatively unknown, lake to learn more.

In order to set foot on the rocky, seemingly untouched shore of Independence Lake, it’s recommended that you have 4-wheel drive. 

The Sparks Marina: Past, Present, Future

Oct 8, 2015
Esther Ciammachilli

Businesses and real estate around the Sparks Marina took a hard hit after the recession and both have been slow to regain momentum. That, together with some high-profile ecological issues, has left many in the area with mixed perceptions about the health and vitality of this lake community. For our series, Beyond Tahoe: Exploring Our Waterways, Reno Public Radio’s Esther Ciammachilli reports.

Lisa G. is known as the Mayor of the Sparks Marina. She’s the owner of Marina Paddle Fit, one of the only businesses currently open there. Lisa takes great pride in this lake.

The scenic Truckee River, which winds through downtown Reno, is now considered a valuable asset, but it wasn’t always that way.  Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray takes a look back at how the river was once overlooked.

The Truckee River winds through the Riverwalk District, but a number of issues like urban blight prevents the area from reaching its fullest potential. That’s why public and private stakeholders are collaborating on a master plan to protect this waterway and the community around it. To learn more, Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray spent time along the Truckee.

Even though the Truckee River has dwindled from a roar to a trickle, the sound of flowing water—or what’s left of it— still beckons people to relax, play, or just be in the moment. 

Amy Westervelt

Donner Lake in Truckee holds some of the largest lake trout in California, but Reno Public Radio’s Amy Westervelt reports that Donner fish might not make for the healthiest meal.

Truckee residents take pride in having their own lake. At only 1.3 square miles compared to Tahoe’s nearly 200, Donner may be small, but the clear, cold lake, ringed by mountains is no less popular for swimming, paddleboarding, and fishing. It also boasts one of just a few sandy stretches in the area.

As Pyramid Lake Popularity Grows, So Does Trash

Oct 5, 2015
Julia Ritchey

Although it receives far less attention than Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake is one of Nevada's most picturesque desert oasis. But Pyramid faces a number of challenges as a recreational destination, including illegal dumping and increasing salinity levels. Today, as we begin our series called Beyond Tahoe: Exploring Our Waterways, reporter Julia Ritchey travels to Pyramid Lake to tell us its story.

It's a busy weekend at the Pelican boat launch at Pyramid Lake. A line of eager boaters wait to unload pontoons, jet skis and other watercraft at the bottom of the ramp.