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2004 – 2025 Washoe County Comprehensive Regional Water Management Plan


For decades, entities involved with water issues in the Truckee Meadows have recognized a need to develop a plan for water supply, wastewater management, storm water drainage and flood control using a regional approach.

Attempts at regional water planning started in 1983 when the Nevada State Legislature established the Regional Water Planning and Advisory Board (RWPAB) of Washoe County. The enabling legislation’s general mandate to the RWPAB was to develop a regional plan for present and future uses of water resources in the region, recognizing local governments’ land use plans and coordinating the needs of incorporated areas with unincorporated areas. The RWPAB was also directed to identify "potential supplies of water" for the region. The Regional Water Resources Plan (RWRP) was accepted by the RWPAB in March 1990 as a starting point for further planning efforts.

In 1988, the Legislature passed Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 278.026–029 inclusive (amended in 1991), mandating the development of a comprehensive land use plan for the region. The Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Governing Board (established by this legislation) could not agree as to the best method of providing wastewater and water services for the region but did agree to abide by the findings of an impartial fact finder to establish a coordinated approach to deal with these issues. The fact finder, Kato & Warren Inc., completed its report in 1990. The report recommended that a unified and coordinated approach, directed by one agency, be used to develop a plan to address wastewater treatment, water supply, flood control and storm drainage, and Truckee River water quality. The fact finder further recommended that Washoe County serve as the overall agency to develop this plan. Specifically, the report recommended that:

The County should begin at once to organize and conduct a coordinated study of water supply, waste treatment, and water quality aspects of flood control and drainage such that water quality standards in the Truckee River can be achieved to the satisfaction of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and the state and federal agencies.

From this recommendation, Washoe County funded the Regional Water Supply and Quality Study (RWSQS), which was completed in 1993. This extensive report was accepted by the Washoe County Board of Commissioners (Board) but not adopted.

In 1995, Washoe County and the Cities of Reno and Sparks developed legislation to again address regional water issues. This legislation, NRS 540A, was approved by the Nevada State Legislature in July 1995. NRS 540A.010 through 540A.240 were amended by the 1997 Legislature to remove a July 1997 sunset date (see Appendix A). These statutes provide the basis and direction for the Regional Water Planning Commission (RWPC) and the Regional Water Plan.

The RWPC approved and recommended the 1995–2015 Regional Water Plan to the Board on November 20, 1996. The Board adopted the Plan on January 14, 1997. The Regional Water Plan was found in conformance with the Regional Plan on February 12, 1997, approved by the Reno City Council on February 18, 1997, approved by the Sparks City Council on February 24, 1997 and accepted by the Nevada Legislature in June 1997. Approval of the initial Regional Water Plan by the two Cities was required by the 1995 Legislature (Chapter 688, Statutes of Nevada 1995). Concurrent with the 1995 legislation, the three local governments hired Carollo Engineers to develop a Reno/Sparks/Washoe County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facilities Master Plan, which was finalized on December 31, 1998. The Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facilities Master Plan was used as the wastewater element of the 1995–2015 Regional Water Plan excluding the outlying areas.

Since its adoption in 1997, the Regional Water Plan has been amended twice. On January 28, 1997, 14 days after its initial adoption by the Board, the Plan was amended to focus on a regional goal to reduce water consumption as provided in the "Base Case" conservation plan through landscaping performance standards, and to add or delete other specific projects. On July 14, 1998, the Board amended the plan to include the "North Valleys Water Alternatives," also known informally as the "North Valleys Strategy," with the provisions that no more money be expended on studying the Warm Springs project or the Truckee Meadows project.

NRS 540A requires that the RWPC review the initial Regional Water Plan within five years of its adoption, and every three years thereafter. After each review the Commission is to submit an amendment to the Board or report that there are none. This 2004–2025 Regional Water Plan is prepared as a result of the Commission’s five-year review completed in February 2002. Amendments to the plan, once approved by the RWPC, must follow an approval process similar to that of the original plan. Approvals for amendments in the order in which they must occur are listed below:

• RWPC by a two-thirds majority vote

• Board of County Commissioners by a two-thirds majority vote

• Regional Planning Commission (conformance review)


The RWPC is responsible for periodic review of the Regional Water Plan and submittal of proposed amendments to the Board (NRS 540A.170, 220). Adoption of the plan or amendments to the plan is the responsibility of the Board (NRS 540A. 040, 180-190). The Regional Planning Commission is responsible for reviewing the plan or amendments to the plan for conformance with the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan, comprehensive plans and master plans adopted by local governments (NRS 540A.200). The Regional Planning Governing Board is responsible for resolving any appeals of the Regional Planning Commission’s determination of conformance or nonconformance (NRS 540A.210).



Legislature to remove a July 1997 sunset date (see Appendix A). These statutes provide the