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Reno / Tahoe Water Conservation

In the West, Water Conservation Matters

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Reno Truckee River water conservation Nevada

Truckee River flows through downtown Reno.

Photo © Stan White
Water in the West isn't what it used to be; there isn't as much as there used to be and there are millions more people wanting a share than there used to be. Drought conditions, which studies have shown to be recurring events, are drying up rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Growing populations in places like Las Vegas, Phoenix, Southern California, and even Reno / Tahoe, are demanding more water from diminishing supplies. Short of miraculous upwellings of ground water or dramatic weather pattern shifts bringing rain to the dry deserts, we all need to look at the water situation seriously and practice water conservation where and when we can. Get the big picture of our parched situation in the article Drying of the West from the February, 2008 issue of National Geographic Magazine.

Truckee Meadows Water Authority

Drinking water in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County is supplied by the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA), a non-profit, community owned utility. Board of Directors meetings are open to the public. The main office is at 1355 Capital Blvd., Reno, NV 89502. The customer service phone number is (775) 834-8080, option 2. TMWA serves over 93,000 businesses and homes.

Drinking Water from Lake Tahoe

We have some of the best drinking water in the country. Most of what comes out of our taps is drawn from the Truckee River, which is the only stream flowing out of Lake Tahoe. A number of wells in the TMWA service area also contribute to the water supply. The Chalk Bluff Water Treatment Facility in west Reno is TMWA's primary water treatment plant. You can keep tabs on how our water supply is doing at the real-time Lake Tahoe Storage web page.

Just how good is our water? Pretty darn good, actually. According to TMWA, "Our water quality meets, and in most cases, significantly exceeds all Environmental Protection Agency and Nevada State Health standards." Detailed Water Quality Information is available on the TMWA website.

Know Your Watering Day

It's against TMWA rules to start up the sprinklers whenever you feel like it. Read about Assigned-Day Watering to learn when you can water lawns and landscaping and when you shouldn't. The rules apply to homes as well as business properties.

About TMWA Water Meters

Many moons ago, water meters didn't exist and everyone paid the same flat rate for whatever they used. Fast forward to today and about 15% of TMWA's customers are still billed on a flat rate basis even though most have a meter installed. The goal is to get everyone on the metered rate by June, 2010. In the interim, the metered rate is applied (and a meter installed if needed) whenever property changes hands if the previous billing was flat rate. It's really not as complicated as it sounds; reading about TMWA Water Meters will help you sort it out.

Water meters are more than just a way to help TMWA give you a bill. Your meter can help you find a leak as these instructions from TMWA describe. I know it works because I was able to run down and fix a leak after I moved into a fixer house with a number of deferred maintenance issues. If you think a little drip here and there doesn't amount to much, try this drip calculator and you'll be surprised.

Landscaping to Conserve Water

One of the best ways to conserve water in our desert environment is through water-efficient landscaping. To support this effort, TMWA provides us with an interactive online guide called Landscape Design and Proper Planning.

Xeriscape Gardening and Landscaping

It's pretty tough to garden by depending on free water from the sky when your average precipitation (both rain and snow) is 7.48 inches. To the rescue is xeriscaping, a method of gardening and landscaping that conserves water by cooperating with an area's natural climate rather than trying to fight it. These About.com guides will get you on the right path toward implementing a xeriscape landscape around your home or business. Source: Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA).

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