Lake Tahoe and Truckee River Basins


The interstate waters of the Lake Tahoe and Truckee River Basins (Basins) have been the subject of dispute, controversy, and litigation for well over a century. These conflicts have now been addressed with federal legislation, the 1990 Truckee-Carson-Pyramid Lake Water Rights Settlement Act (Settlement Act) (Pub. Law 101-618), and a negotiated agreement known as the Truckee River Operating Agreement (TROA).

The Settlement Act provides for the permanent allocation of water between the States of California and Nevada in the Lake Tahoe, Truckee River, and Carson River Basins.  For the Lake Tahoe Basin, the Settlement Act provides that the total gross diversions for use within the basin in the State of California, from all natural sources, including groundwater, and under all water rights shall not exceed 23,000 acre-feet per year (AFY).  In the Truckee River Basin, the Settlement Act allocates to California the right to divert or extract, or to utilize any combination thereof, the gross amount of 32,000 AFY from all natural sources, including both surface and groundwater, provided that the maximum annual diversion of surface supplies not exceed 10,000 AFY.

With the implementation of TROA on December 1, 2015, the interstate allocations under the Settlement Act for the Basins took effect. The State Water Resources Control Board will administer water rights actions in California assuring that surface water use is consistent with the Settlement Act and TROA. As of December 2017, there are more than 20 pending applications and more than 50 pending petitions on file with the State Water Board related to water rights actions in the Basins.

Orders and Decisions

Some of the State Water Board’s orders and decisions regarding the Basins are listed below.

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