Be #watersmart by getting to know your watershed – Part 2

Storm Water Public Art in Reno, NV

Today we are following yesterday’s post that described our three local watersheds by providing more information on what can be done to positively impact our local water issues. To read Part 1 click here.

What Everyone Can Do Right Now
On June 16-17, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and Project WET hosted “Waters of the Western Great Basin: A Symposium for Educators” at the Peppermill in Reno. At the symposium, everyone was encouraged to take action in helping preserve and enhance our local watersheds. Reno’s hydrologist, Lynell Garfield-Qualls, inspired attendees with the storm drain art project that she helped actualize. The initiative has artists painting a more human face on the storm drains throughout the city and hopes to remind people that street surface runoff enters the storm drain system and drains directly to the Truckee River, untreated. Remember, only rain in the storm drain.

Lynell shared some other easy ways to help keep our local waters clean:

  • Prevent “Urban Slobber” (untreated fluid waste that runs off yards and city streets, into drains, and eventually into the river) by setting sprinkler times for zero runoff and taking your vehicle to a commercial car wash instead of doing it yourself.
  • Dispose of oil/paint properly and close lids to dumpsters and garbage cans to keep the waste dry.
    Pick up pet waste, as leaving it to decompose will put extra nutrients into the water system, which will decrease water quality.
  • Obtain proper permits for industrial operations.
  • Obtain proper building permits to reduce construction runoff – and CALL IN if you see any project violating their permits – ACTIVE CITIZENRY 334-INFO.
  • Engage in thoughtful small ranching techniques.

The Rain Garden installation, an example of a Low Impact Development (LID) installation, at the McKinley Arts and Culture Center. Photo Copyright © 2015 University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, an EEO/AA institution

We also had the opportunity to tour the Low Impact Development (LID) example project that the City of Reno established in 2009 at the McKinley Arts and Culture Center. One of the lead engineers explained the many different techniques that were installed to the building’s exterior and landscape in order to have a lessened environmental impact. Examples that you can see for yourself are a permeable concrete parking lot, rain gutters, and a rain garden just to name a few. There is a self-guided walking tour and informational signs around the building to educate the public about LID and how it helps to be more environmentally friendly. Check out the regional stormwater quality management program to read about more initiatives that the City of Reno is implementing to help our watershed.

Where & How To Learn More
Over the course of the two day symposium, we realized that many local organizations and groups are working towards the same goal: To educate our communities in protecting their local watersheds. If you want to learn more about local watersheds, water rights, and water issues, great starting points include your local library and museums, as well as online resources. If you are looking to get involved in creating change in your community and protecting your watersheds, a couple of great ways include participating in trash cleanups and contacting your elected officials to let them know the health of your watershed is important to you!

Check out these websites and organizations to learn more:
Educational Opportunities & Tours

  • Tahoe Science Center ( A little something (science-related) for everyone–docent-led tours, group tours and field trips, hands-on science activities, a monthly lecture series, and special events.
  • Project WET: Water Education for Teachers ( – working towards a world in which action-oriented education enables every child to understand and value water, ensuring a sustainable future. They have many water-related activities that teachers and parents can do with children.
  • Truckee Meadows Water Authority ( for information, conservation tips, and public tours of water facilities.
  • Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum & Visitors Center ( information about the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s history, culture, it’s people. Museum Hours: Tuesday – Saturday | 10:00 am – 4:30 pm.
  • Pyramid Lake Fisheries ( has the goal to operate and maintain fishery facilities at Pyramid Lake and the lower Truckee River for the purpose of enhancing Cui-ui and Lahontan Cutthroat Trout populations, while creating a balance within natural resources management actions, which reflects the social, cultural, economic, and natural resource values of the Pyramid Lake Paiute people. Tours available: 775-476-0500.
  • The Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex ( manages the recovery implementation for the endangered cui-ui and the threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout. Tours available M-F from 8AM-3PM, but you must call in advance 775-265-2425.
  • The Nature Conservancy’s Nature Rocks Program ( – activities aimed to inspire and empower families to play and explore in nature for happier, healthier and smarter kids. Also check out The Nature Conservancy’s water saving tips:
  • River Wranglers ( inspiring youth, through hands-on learning, to explore, conserve and understand the importance of local rivers. They have river history trunks, classroom presentations, and field trips.
  • Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation ( works with citizens in the Truckee Meadows to ensure the long-term sustainability and improvement of our parks. They have monthly events and weekly park tours.
  • Sierra Nevada Journeys ( has classroom opportunities, field trips, family science nights, and outdoor summer camps.
  • Great Basin Outdoor School ( – hands on discovery in the outdoor classroom – offering spring, summer, fall, and winter programs for classes and youth.
  • Urban Roots ( is growing healthy minds, bodies & communities. Farm tours and camps available.

Community Cleanups

  • Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful ( is dedicated to creating a cleaner, more beautiful region through education and active community involvement. They have multiple volunteer opportunities and cleanup events every month.

Online Resources

  • Truckee Meadows Stormwater Quality Management Program ( is a joint effort of the cities of Reno, Sparks and Washoe County. They have a wealth of resources about how you can get involved in keeping our watershed clean including an interactive Truckee Meadows watershed map.
  • Carson Interactive Watershed Map ( is an educational tool that does a great job of going into detail about different aspects of the Carson Valley watershed.
    state of the lake website
  • Truckee River Info Gateway (TRIG) ( uses avaible water quality data to make technical resources freely available to the public.

Written by 
Aaron and Molly Heit
AmeriCorps VISTAs serving at Envirolution.


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