TAHOE CITY, Calif. - Truckee River flow rules mean no water for rafters between Tahoe City and the River Ranch for the Fourth of July.
The late spring runoff has been good for the lower stretches of the Truckee River and other streams, creating generally high flows. But a long-standing federal rule means that as long as the flow is high through Floriston in the Truckee River, the U.S. District Court Water Masters Office can't release extra water from Lake Tahoe, leaving rafting companies on the upper stretch high and dry.
"It's pretty devastating," said Aaron Rudnick, owner and operator of the Truckee River Raft Company. "It's not even the loss of revenue .... it's 85 kids we'd like to start on their summer jobs before summer is over."
He said the Fourth of July weekend is generally the biggest weekend of the summer for business. Instead, Rudnick said he'll be renting out the company's parking lot for extra paid parking.
Chad Blanchard, deputy chief water master at the water masters office, said the rule states the office can't let more water than the natural flow out of Tahoe as long as more than 500 cubic feet per second is flowing past Floriston, and as of Thursday, that rate was 930.
"Obviously this is a freak year for extremely late runoff," Blanchard said. "We don't make the rules and can't change the rules."
Any change would have to come from the courts he said, but that hasn't stopped people from calling.
"We've gotten calls from congressmen's' offices, senators' offices, everybody in Placer County and individuals screaming and cussing," Blanchard said.
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