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Desert Research Institute

EPA-Funded DRI proposal for a study on "Regional Clean Water Activities" based in Truckee, Carson, Humboldt Rivers

This project is in progress through DRI, with Alan McKay as one of the PIs. This project was described as an exploration of watershed-specific nuances in algal growth/uptake that may differ significantly from previously held scientific beliefs based on growth in other river systems. Better science will make for more accurate modeling on these systems. -LG

From the problem statement:
"State and local agencies in Nevada are currently under intense pressure to meet conditions of the Clean Water Act (CWA); particularly those related to nonpoint source pollution (Section 319[h]), impaired waters (Section 303[d]) and associated total maximum daily loads (TMDLs). Among the challenges facing the state are sparse data, inadequate scientific basis for existing water quality standards, a general lack of decision-making tools such as models and spatial analysis software, and insufficient financial resources to support in-house technical staff. Discussions with state and local stakeholders (e.g., Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, or NDEP; Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe; and Washoe County) along with staff from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region IX have helped identify and prioritize a suite of water quality-related activities that address some of the aforementioned water quality challenges. The geographic focus of these activities includes three western Nevada river basins (the Truckee, Carson, and Humboldt rivers). The scientific focus will involve a suite of laboratory and field-scale activities designed to better understand the effects of natural and human factors on ecological function in western river basins. A unifying element for data derived from this research will be application to one or more numerical water quality models, which will lead to improved capability to simulate future conditions under varying management scenarios. "

Find entire proposal document attached.

Truckee River Biomass Monitoring Program...July 2001 to Aug 2002

Truckee River Biomass Monitoring Program: Data Encompassing Field Studies of July 2001 to August 2002
Jeramie Memmott, Megan Robinson, Annika Mosier, Christian H. Fritsen
Division of Earth and Ecosystem Science, Desert Research Institute
2215 Raggio Parkway, Reno NV 89512. phone: (775) 673-7487

The Truckee River Biomass Monitoring (TRBM) program has collected data regarding algal biomass in the lower Truckee River [expressed as plant pigments (chlorophyll a), carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous] that can be used for independent analysis of ecosystem health and nutrient budgets. Furthermore, the biomass sampling program has been implemented in such a manner that the results will be used to validate water quality models and, hence, to make model formulations more scientifically defensible as management tools.

Data reported within this draft were generated as part of the second round of monthly biomass sampling that began in November 2001 and was completed as of August 2002.

The Study
In monitoring plant and algal biomass in the lower Truckee River we conducted the following field activities: Samples were collected four times at eleven sites (HERS, FLEI, PATA, EMCC, LOCK, PATR, TRAC, PAIN, JOHN, DEAD, LNIX) on the Truckee River (Figure 2) and an additional six times at eight of the eleven sites (HERS, FLEI, PATA, LOCK, PATR, TRAC, JOHN, LNIX). Sampling at all eleven sites was conducted on a quarterly basis to be consistent with the previous monitoring program (July 2000 to July 2001), which also included more spatially intensive sampling for increased spatial information on a quarterly basis. Eight of the eleven sites were sampled on a monthly basis. During the majority of sampling, temperature, pH, specific conductance, and dissolved oxygen were recorded in real-time using YSI Incorporated sondes provided by Washoe County. River velocity measurements were made at points where samples were collected to constrain the physical flow regime of the plant communities beyond levels previously attained.

Samples for water quality analysis were collected at each sampling site (consistent with monthly or quarterly sampling) using a depth-integrating sampler and were delivered to Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility (TMWRF) for analysis. Vertical profiles of solar irradiance in the water column were conducted to constrain previously estimated light penetration values used for modeling primary productivity and in community metabolism studies.

At each site during each round of sampling, an average of 14 periphyton samples were collected for ash free dry weight (AFDW) and chlorophyll a. A minimum of three samples from each site were collected for determining periphyton functional groups (e.g. blue green algae, filamentous green algae, green algae, and diatoms) that are consistent with groupings currently used in water quality models (e.g. DSSAMt). On average, five subsamples of periphyton from each site were analyzed for carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous contents.

Please find report in pdf attached.

CWES: Center for Watersheds and Environmental Sustainability

The Center for Watersheds and Environmental Sustainability (CWES) was created in 1999 as part of DRI's approach to interdisciplinary research. As aquatic environments and watersheds become increasingly stressed from impacts including global climate change, their management for long-term sustainability will be fundamental to overall ecosystem health.

The mission of CWES is to facilitate development of interdisciplinary research teams that address a variety of science issues important to policy decisions at the watershed scale. Information gained from these research programs will be disseminated to land managers and policy and regulatory decision makers to provide scientific guidance for appropriate policy development.

Water Quality Assessment and Modeling of the California Portion of the Truckee River Basin (2001)

Written By 
David McGraw, Alan McKay, Guohong Duan, Thomas Bullard, Tim Minor, Jason Kuchnicki 

Prepared By
Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute, University and Community College System of Nevada, Las Vegas

Prepared For
Town of Truckee Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board JULY 2001

Influence of Riparian Vegetation on Local Climate and River Temperature

This project is managed by
Gayle Dana, Jim Brock, and John Stanley

Temperature is of fundamental importance to the function of aquatic ecosystems and the distribution and abundance of species. Water temperature is critical to maintenance of self-sustaining fisheries with considerable resources being applied towards managing flow, channel, and riparian conditions in order to promote optimal thermal regimes. Numerical models that simulate river temperature have come into common use by managers concerned with water quality (pollutant loading) as well as biological communities.

These models typically require meteorologic data (e.g., air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and solar radiation). Such data typically are obtained from regional weather stations and applied to conditions at a point in the basin. Some models, such as SNTEMP (Bartholow 1995) make adjustments for elevation but generally it is assumed that the climate data from the weather station (commonly located a t airports) adequately reflect conditions that influence river temperature.

Meteorological data (air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, solar radiation) were collected in two areas within in the Truckee River Basin, Nevada. Stations within Reno Urban area include the Reno Airport (Reno), which is presently used in the modeling efforts described earlier, and the Desert Research Institute (DRI). At the Lower Truckee River area, data were collected in 4 different habitat types near the river: open water (OW), shaded riparian (SRA), gallery forest (GF), and open field (OF). Two stations were set up in each habitat type. Data were collected from September 27 to October 23, 2001.

Biological Condition Index Development for the Truckee River: Periphyton Assemblage

Prepared By
Clinton J. Davis and Christian H. Fritsen
Desert Research Institute
2215 Raggio Parkway
Reno NV, 89512

Prepared For
Nevada Division of Environmental Protection
February 6, 2006

The objectives of the current activities were to determine if sufficient data was available to derive preliminary periphyton-based metrics that could be used in a periphyton-based indices of ecological condition for the Lower Truckee River, which could in turn be used to derive more comprehensive indices of biological integrity (IBI) based on fish, macroinvertebrates and periphyton populations. Derivation of metrics and indices was made possible through the use of relatively recent (2000 to 2004) seasonal periphyton data that was collected from 11 to 15 locations from California-Nevada border to Pyramid Lake. Although, the levels of taxonomic information from the different data sets were not always comparable, several candidate metrics and indices encompassing information from both the species level and the genera level were identified, calculated and evaluated.

Notable among the metrics most amenable for a Truckee River Periphyton Index were the Siltation Index, Shannon Diversity Index, Eutraphentic Index, Diatom Generic Richness, % Achnanthes minutissima, Chlorophyll a and Ash Free Dry Weight. These metrics covered several aspects of the periphyton community characteristics (richness, composition, tolerance, and habit) that are desired attributes to be accounted for in multimetric indices.

Application of a periphyton-based multimetric index to the mainstem of the Truckee River indicates a general upstream to downstream trend for decreasing ecological condition. However, these results are based on a limited amount of periphyton data and also need to be evaluated in combination with Index’s for fishes and macroinvertebrates in order to gain a more complete picture of the “condition” of the lower Truckee River.

Baseline Ecological Monitoring: McCarran Ranch Restoration Project, Lower Truckee River, Nevada (2003-4)

DRI Research Topics at the McCarran Ranch Restoration Project include:

Benthic Algae, Benthic Macroinvertebrates, Fish, Geomorphic Habitat
Temperature, Water Levels and GW-SW Exchange, Water Chemistry and Quality

For site map and sampling sites, please visit the website listed.

Summary of current water chemistry and biological monitoring in Truckee River Basin between Lake Tahoe and Pyramid Lake

Written By

Jim Brock and Alan McKay
Contacts: jbrock@dri.edu, alan@dri.edu

This document presents the data collection and monitoring efforts that occur along the Truckee River by various organizations. This document is maintained by Jim Brock and Alan McKay of the Desert Research Institute.

Evaluation of Groundwater and Solute Transport in the Fernley – Wadsworth Area

The Truckee River Water Quality Agreement of 1997 settled longstanding litigation between the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (PLPT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), State of Nevada and the Cities of Reno and Sparks (“Cities”), respectively. A key element of this agreement was a commitment by the Cities and the Department of the Interior to spend up to $24 million to purchase Truckee River water rights from downstream of Sparks. Water would subsequently be sorted in upper basin reservoirs for release under low-flow conditions to help the Cities meet water quality objectives, particularly those related to nutrients and dissolved oxygen. It was further anticipated that a reduction in irrigated agriculture within the Fernley area would result in an associated decrease in high total dissolved solids (TDS) groundwater discharge to the river, helping to mitigate salinity loading to Pyramid Lake.

A hydrogeologic investigation was undertaken to characterize the groundwater system in the Fernley Basin and to determine the TDS loading to the Truckee River between the towns of Wadsworth and Nixon. A groundwater flow and transport model was constructed to integrate all of the available data and to predict the potential loadings under various management alternatives.

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