Have you ever sipped water straight from a faucet and been taken aback by a chemical, unpleasant taste?  If you did, you probably weren’t here in Somersett because ours is among the best quality water in the country. The reason? It’s mostly we have one of the cleanest sources in the nation – the Truckee River, which, of course, originates in the pristine Lake Tahoe.

But it takes more than a pristine source to deliver great-tasting, clean water. That’s where the Truckee Meadows Water Authority’s treatment plants step in, with the main facility being Chalk Bluff, just southeast of Somersett at the corner of South McCarran and Fourth Street.

If you’ve driven by the Chalk Bluff facility you may have noticed water in reservoirs and a few nondescript buildings. But what you can’t see is that those buildings contain a sophisticated operation consisting of multiple steps that take the river water and turn it into water that is fit to drink. Some of the buildings run two stories underground and contain rows of huge tanks, a maze of pipes and enormous filtration systems.

There is also a control room, where employees track a staggering number of data points from tanks, wells, pump houses and other components in the water system extending from Stead to south of Double Diamond. And then there’s a state-of-the-art lab, where water samples are tested every three hours, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Here are a few fun facts about our water:

  • TMWA pumps an average of 145 million gallons a day in peak summer months, which falls to 45 million gallons in the winter. The summer uptick is due mostly to irrigation needs.
  • Although 145 million gallons a day sounds like A LOT of water, in a typical year TMWA takes only 3% of the Truckee’s flow. In a drought, that could rise to 9%.
  • TMWA’s three, century-old hydroelectric power plants – Washoe, Fleish and Verdi – are “the crown jewels in Northern Nevada’s green-energy portfolio,’’ eliminating roughly 15,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions from our atmosphere each year. Read more
  • Check out TMWA’s Water Quality Lookup page, a map-based reference tool providing water quality data by geographic location.

Take a tour

Want to see firsthand what goes into getting clean water to your home? Public tours run regularly at the Chalk Bluff Water Treatment Plant as well as at the Verdi Hydroelectric Power Plant. Read more