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Settlement Reached in Truckee River
Three localities and the Department of the Interior
will fund a $24 million program to improve water quality and
wildlife conditions in the Truckee River and Pyramid Lake, under
an agreement signed today by representatives of the United
States; the cities of Reno and Sparks, Nevada; Washoe County
Nevada; the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection; and the
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.
Under the agreement, Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County,
will provide $12 million over the next five years to acquire
Truckee River Water Rights. The Department of the Interior
(DOI) will seek appropriations of an additional $12 Million for
the same purpose. The water rights obtained through the funds
will be used in a program to improve water quality and in-stream
flows in the Truckee River from the Reno/Sparks area to Pyramid
The agreement settles a lawsuit by the Pyramid Lake
Paiute Tribe against the United States, Reno and Sparks, Nevada,
that alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act, Clean
Water Act, National Environmental Protection Act, and the federal
government's trust responsibility to the Tribe.
As a part of the settlement, the Tribe agrees not to adopt
under its own authority any water quality standards for the lower
Truckee River, which is located within the tribal reservation,
that would negate the value of the agreement. The agreement also
creates an alternative dispute mechanism to deal with such
"This settlement is a remarkable accomplishment
and another example of the Clinton Administration's commitment to
hammering out local, on-the-ground, common sense solutions to
long-standing and contentious problems," said Secretary of
the Interior Bruce Babbitt. "Through the patient hours of
hard work put in by Senator Reid, in establishing a framework for
settlement, and all eight of the affected parties, the Pyramid
Lake Tribe can put aside their litigation and turn their
attention to improving Truckee river water quality and recovering
the ancient cui-ui that has been an integral part of the Tribe's
history throughout the centuries."
"This agreement between the Pyramid Lake Paiute
Tribe and the governmental entities provides a creative and
sustainable course of action to prevent deterioration of the
Truckee River and Pyramid lake, including protecting the
endangered ancient cui-ui so integral to the life of the
Paiutes," said Lois Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in
charge of the Environment and Natural Resources Division.
"This agreement demonstrates that our environmental problems can
be solved through the cooperation of citizens and their representative government."
"With the participation of all, we now have a solution that
is win-win-win: for the environment, for Nevada's local
communities, and for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe," said EPA
Regional Administrator Felicia Marcus.
The settlement calls for DOI to arrange for storage of
the acquired water in federal facilities. The water will be
released to improve river flows during dry periods, according to
a schedule and management plan to be developed by the local
governments and DOI. The program is expected to solve water
quality problems in the Truckee River and assist in the recovery
of the endangered cui-ui fish which is found only in Pyramid
"The signing of this agreement is another
milestone of cooperation among users of the Truckee River,"
said Ada Deer, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian
Affairs. "This is truly a situation where all the parties
involved, including the residents of the Truckee Meadows, the
Pyramid Lake Tribe, and fish and wildlife will benefit from this
"The amount of water this agreement provides to
Pyramid Lake and the lower Truckee River, as well as its timing,
will significantly improve the chances for the recovery of the
endangered cui-ui," said Mike Spear, Regional Director of the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The agreement also will enable the local governments to
develop projects designed to create a drought-proof water supply
for recreational areas through sewage effluent reuse projects.
These projects will improve Truckee river water quality by
substituting clean river water for effluent discharge. The
treated effluent discharge will then be used for parks, an
agriculture experiment station, golf courses and other uses.