International Commission on Irrigation & Drainage Commission Interationale des Irrigation et du Drainage

ICID Webinar on "Dividing the Waters: A History of Litigation in the Truckee River Basin and the Hope for the Future"

“Have faith in God and US Reclamation” – Pictures from the early 1900s show signs with that phrase printed on them by farmers in Reclamation projects in the western United States.  The United States had pushed west over the last 100 years since the early 1800s, but settlement was sparse.  Depending on snow and rainfall to grow crops without irrigation is a risky business.  Water was needed to “reclaim” that arid west and the Reclamation Service, now the Bureau of Reclamation, began that process in 1902.

Reclamation set about building water storage projects, conveyance projects and distribution structures to bring moisture to rich land to produce food for the United States.  Reclamation constructed more than 600 dams and reservoirs including Hoover Dam on the Colorado River and Grand Coulee on the Columbia River – true engineering feats.  Today, it is the largest wholesaler of water in the country. We bring water to more than 31 million people, and provide irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland that produce 60% of the nation's vegetables and 25% of its fruits and nuts.  The United States is one of 8 countries where, on average, less than 10% of household income is spent on food.  Reclamation plays a big part in the United States ability to feed itself at affordable prices.

As the nation grew and developed, national values began to change.  Water projects built by Reclamation now needed to ensure the environment and endangered species could survive and thrive just as the American people had.  Reclamation is in the midst of a long process to find balance between human needs, rights owned by people for the use of water, and environmental and species needs, while continuing to keep projects that are over 115 years old fully functioning and safe.  This presentation reviews water development through changing values, in a case study of the Truckee River.

The Truckee River is among the most litigated rivers in the United States.  The history of litigation provides the background for current operations that are, at the moment, litigation free!  This presentation provides an overview of decades of contentious litigation over the Truckee River system and focuses in on two Federal rules that have provided innovation in meeting the demands placed on the River - the Newlands Project Operating Criteria and Procedures (OCAP) and the Truckee River Operating Agreement (TROA).

In 1905, the United States completed construction of the Truckee Canal, one of the major facilities of the Newlands Project – an irrigation project meant to harness the water of the Truckee and Carson Rivers and now irrigates about 58,000 acres.  The Truckee Canal allowed diversions from the Truckee River to the Carson River for use in the Newlands Project.  Prior to 1967, diversions out of the Truckee River were limited only by the capacity of the facilities. These unlimited diversions contributed to the approximately 80-foot decline in the level of Pyramid Lake between 1900 and 1967. In response to court actions, various operating criteria were implemented until the 1988 and subsequently 1997 OCAP were put in place. We’ll talk about the aspects of OCAP that have allowed it to stand since 1997.

TROA was signed in 2008 and fully implemented late 2015.  TROA allows for the fuller use of water rights to meet changing water usage and needs on the Truckee River while simultaneously protecting water rights that will continue to be used for irrigation.  The provisions in TROA for sharing water, through the conversion of various categories of credit water into Fish Credit water for example, are pretty innovative and to date, successful.  Both Federal Rules are solutions for dividing the waters to meet a diversity of needs and water uses.

Speaker: Ms. Terri Edwards (USA); Panelists: President Prof. Dr. Ragab Ragab, (2) VPH Frank Dimick; (3) Dr. Jaepil Cho (South Korea)

Ms. Terri EdwardsMs. Terri Edwards is the Area Manager for the Lahontan Basin Area Office headquartered in Carson City, Nevada.  Terri oversees the management of Bureau of Reclamation facilities located throughout northern Nevada and eastern California. Her responsibilities include management of a wide variety of water resource issues related to the Newlands Project – one of the first Reclamation projects – as well as the Truckee River Storage Project, Washoe Project and Humboldt Project.

Terri began her employment with Reclamation in 1988 with the Yuma Area Office in Arizona as a computer programmer. In 1994, she worked in the Lower Colorado Dams Facilities Office at Hoover Dam as a team building facilitator, and then in Native American Affairs in the Lower Colorado Regional Office before arriving in Carson City. She joined the Lahontan Basin Area Office in August 2001, administering the operations and maintenance contract for the Newlands Project as well as coordination of Native American Affairs for the office.  Terri was the head of the Resource Management Division and then Deputy Area Manager for the Lahontan Basin Area Office before being selected as the Area Manager in August 2014. Terri graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems, and a Master of Business Administration from Webster University.


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