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River and Reservoir Operations Model, Truckee River Basin, California and Nevada, 1998

Summary: 
The demand for all uses of water in the Truckee River Basin, California and Nevada, commonly is greater than can be supplied. Storage reservoirs in the system have a maximum effective total capacity equivalent to less than two years of average river flows, so longer-term droughts can result in substantial water-supply shortages for irrigation and municipal users and may stress fish and wildlife ecosystems.
Rights: 
Creative Commons - Commercial Use OK
Status: 
Ongoing

By Steven N. Berris, Glen W. Hess, and Larry R. Bohman
U.S. Geological Survey
Water-Resources Investigations Report 01-4017

Summary

The demand for all uses of water in the Truckee River Basin, California and Nevada, commonly is greater than can be supplied. Storage reservoirs in the system have a maximum effective total capacity equivalent to less than two years of average river flows, so longer-term droughts can result in substantial water-supply shortages for irrigation and municipal users and may stress fish and wildlife ecosystems. Title II of Public Law (P.L.) 101-618, the Truckee–Carson–Pyramid Lake Water Rights Settlement Act of 1990, provides a foundation for negotiating and developing operating criteria, known as the Truckee River Operating Agreement (TROA), to balance interstate and interbasin allocation of water rights among the many interests competing for water from the Truckee River. In addition to TROA, the Truckee River Water Quality Settlement Agreement (WQSA), signed in 1996, provides for acquisition of water rights to resolve water-quality problems during low flows along the Truckee River in Nevada. Efficient execution of many of the planning, management, or environmental assessment requirements of TROA and WQSA will require detailed water-resources data coupled with sound analytical tools. Analytical modeling tools constructed and evaluated with such data could help assess effects of alternative operational scenarios related to reservoir and river operations, water-rights transfers, and changes in irrigation practices.

The Truckee–Carson Program of the U.S. Geological Survey, to support U.S. Department of the Interior implementation of P.L. 101-618, is developing a modeling system to support efficient water-resources planning, management, and allocation. The daily operations model documented herein is a part of the modeling system that includes a database management program, a graphical user interface program, and a program with modules that simulate river/reservoir operations and a variety of hydrologic processes. The operations module is capable of simulating lake/reservoir and river operations including diversion of Truckee River water to the Truckee Canal for transport to the Carson River Basin. In addition to the operations and streamflow-routing modules, the modeling system is structured to allow integration of other modules, such as water-quality and precipitation-runoff modules.

The USGS Truckee River Basin operations model was designed to provide simulations that allow comparison of the effects of alternative management practices or allocations on streamflow or reservoir storages in the Truckee River Basin over long periods of time. Because the model was not intended to reproduce historical streamflow or reservoir storage values, a traditional calibration that includes statistical comparisons of observed and simulated values would be problematic with this model and database.

This report describes a chronology and background of decrees, agreements, and laws that affect Truckee River operational practices; the construction of the Truckee River daily operations model; the simulation of Truckee River Basin operations, both current and proposed under the draft TROA and WQSA; and suggested model improvements and limitations. The daily operations model uses Hydrological Simulation Program–FORTRAN (HSPF) to simulate flow-routing and reservoir and river operations. The operations model simulates reservoir and river operations that govern streamflow in the Truckee River from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake, including diversions through the Truckee Canal to Lahontan Reservoir in the Carson River Basin. A general overview is provided of daily operations and their simulation. Supplemental information that documents the extremely complex operating rules simulated by the model is available.

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USGS1998_truckee_operations.pdf2.27 MB