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Truckee River Water Quality: Current Conditions and Trends Relevant to TMDLs and WLAs

Summary: 
The Truckee River’s natural flow pattern has been severely modified, with negative repercussions for native fish and plant communities in the floodplain. Water quality problems were exacerbated in the 1980s as high nutrient loading and low flow during an extended drought resulted in the proliferation of aquatic macrophytes and benthic algae.
Rights: 
Creative Commons - Commercial Use OK
Status: 
Ongoing

Prepared for
Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility
City of Reno and City of Sparks, Nevada

Prepared by
Alan Jassby PhD, Ted Daum MS, and Charles Goldman PhD
Ecological Research Associates
Davis, Calif.
September 10, 2007

Summary

The Truckee River’s natural flow pattern has been severely modified, with negative repercussions for native fish and plant communities in the floodplain. Water quality problems were exacerbated in the 1980s as high nutrient loading and low flow during an extended drought resulted in the proliferation of aquatic macrophytes and benthic algae. In response, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) developed the Truckee River Strategy. Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for total nitrogen (TN) total phosphorus (TP) and total dissolved solids (TDS), and Waste Load Allocations (WLAs) for the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility (TMWRF), were adopted in 1994. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for TMWRF was reissued in 2003. The permit allows potential TMDL and WLA adjustments if supported by appropriate scientific evidence. This report is an analysis of historical monitoring data for both the Truckee River and TMWRF effluent in order to help determine what adjustments, if any, can be made in the discharge levels of the facility. The report is based mainly on the TMWRF river monitoring and treatment plant databases combined with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gage data. The water quality monitoring record started in 1985. The most important period considered here, though, is 1998–2006 because major modification of treatment plant processes and/or operating strategies continued through 1997.

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Jassby_2007_Truckee.pdf2.12 MB