The Waters Out West, When The Truckee Was Best and The Rest Is History…

Its a low water year for the fishermen in Montana as all the rivers are running low and the heat cycle is three weeks ahead of a normal year.  What that means in plain English is that if you are going to fish in Montana right now,  fish before 10 am and after 7 pm, eat a casual lunch and take a nap in the mid day.  A lot of the rivers are closed from 2pm to midnight which shows how aware Montana is of its’ mortality unlike Lake Tahoe, Reno, and Pyramid Lake, the headwaters, the middle and the end of the Truckee Drainage.

So lets compare the two for a moment, both are destination tourism  resorts, all of Montana and the Reno-Tahoe area, so they have something in common;  tourism dollars.   Montana from its famed outdoor activity, and Reno-Tahoe for the same with a gambling overload.  I can speak about this because I grew up in Reno and live in Montana now.  I wrote for ad agencies in Reno in the 70’s, and 80’s before I came to my senses and moved back to Montana to fish, hunt and be a human being.  When I was in Reno the best thing I could do for myself was to  fish the Truckee River every evening.


Now the Truckee flows at 44 cubic feet per second, there is no life sustaining water to fill it coming out of Lake Tahoe because it is below the rim, and the powers that be won’t pump 250 feet per second out of Tahoe even though it is two thousand feet deep  and could easily handle the drop in water  depth to save the river, its inhabitants, and the resource as a whole.  No sir, just let the river die and all the fish in it,  a river that housed the largest non steelhead trout in the world, the Lahontan Cutthroat, prior to the early 1950’s, and now holds huge brown and rainbow trout, not in abundance but with numbers enough to make it a Blue Ribbon Fishery if it were in Montana.  But its not, and Reno thinks with its gambling revenues and thinks its soon to be realized Tesla Factory dollars will heal everything.  Everything but its soul, which it lost when it put corporate dollars ahead of common sense.

If you have no water to sustain life, any life, what do you have?  You’ve got nothin’, just plain nothin’, nada, zip, zero… Add that up and it still comes to nothing.  And you can’t make something out of nothing, no matter how you try…And the West is going through a whole lot of nothing right now, just ask the central valley of California how the crops are, and the great plains how the aquifers are, and ask Montana how it sustains itself by controlling its water flow, shutting off the fishing when it makes sense, and curtailing the irrigation when it is a low water year.  How can a cow town, Podunk state like Montana lead the way in this line of thinking?   I’ll tell you how, its because Montana knows that all things are subject to water flows on this planet and not some corporate interests whose main value structure is based on all dollars and no sense…

No common sense that is, like adjusting the water flows to match the snow-pack percentages, like 88% of the water on a 88% snow-pack year. Snow-pack records are kept on long term averages and that is what is needed, long term thinking not short term fixes  based on electric power projected budgets and people counts. Lake Tahoe can handle the drop in water level and the rich guys whose boat docks don’t reach the lake anymore can build longer ones because they have the money, and they should get a tax break for it because they are losing something, access to the lake they love, so they should get a break on how much they spend to repair the docks.   And the Truckee could benefit from the water it gets, Reno would benefit from the peace of mind flowing water creates in people’s minds as it flows by and Pyramid Lake would benefit from some water flow into it even though it is less than it gets on a standard year.

Is it too much to ask for all us to give back something to the land and water that sustains us, even if it is less water for our lawns, a few less boat docks, a little less electricity to use to run our air conditioners? Does any of this make sense or is too much common sense not applicable anymore to modern day living? It had better make sense to you because the water wars are just starting and you’d better be ready for them.

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