Did you know that we live in a watershed? The Truckee River Watershed, that is. It starts high up in the Sierras at Lake Tahoe. Then, whenever it rains or snows, water drains downhill through rivers, like the Truckee River, streams, and creeks. What most of us don’t know is that our watershed is endorheic, meaning that our watershed does not drain into the ocean like most in the country. Our watershed drains right into Pyramid Lake, a terminal lake with no outlet other than evaporation or seepage into the groundwater. The Truckee River Watershed also provides us with water, something especially important given that we live in the desert. In fact, 85% of our drinking water is sourced from the Truckee River. This is why it’s important to keep pollutants out of our watershed. Pollutants like trash, soap, pet waste, pesticides, antifreeze, oil and gas drippings, and fertilizer are considered nonpoint source pollution because they don’t originate from a specific place; instead they are collected from various places as the surface runoff flows over the ground, like our streets, toward the river. These nonpoint source pollutants travel through our storm drains and into the river, where they can harm our aquatic wildlife and alter ecosystems.


While nonpoint source pollutants may seem like they are not a big deal, over time their impact adds up and that’s when they can become a big problem. Here is a list of all the simple things we can do to make a positive difference!

  1. Keep your trash or recycling from blowing out of your bins.
  2. Make sure your sprinklers aren’t watering the street.
  3. Make sure you know how to dispose of fertilizers and pesticides properly as they are considered household hazardous waste. Find out more at ktmb.org/recycle.
  4. Take your car to the car wash. Car washing businesses have to collect and recycle their polluted, soapy water so it doesn’t flow into a storm drain.
  5. Pick up after your pet on walks! Dog feces can contain up to 23 million fecal coliform bacteria known to cause cramps, intestinal illnesses, and kidney disorders in humans and can transmit over 65 diseases to humans. Plus, it’s just gross.
  6. Volunteer for a cleanup or storm drain stencilling project. KTMB’s Truckee River Cleanup is Saturday, September 28, 2019. Find out more at ktmb.org/volunteer.

For all of these reasons and more, we must do what we can to protect and preserve the Truckee River Watershed. Just remember, only rain in the storm drains!