The Washoe County Water Conservation District is an irrigation district established at the request of property owners on June 24, 1929 by the Washoe County Board of Commissioners under Chapter 539 of the Nevada Revised Statutes. Originally known as the Truckee Meadows Irrigation District, the District changed its name to the Washoe County Water Conservation District on August 7, 1929.
The original property owners essentially agreed to perpetually subject their land to certain assessments and obligations to facilitate conclusion of lawsuits over the ownership of Truckee River water rights (commonly referred to as the Orr Ditch Litigation), prevent shortages of irrigation water and reduce floods by providing storage and regulatory reservoirs to conserve water. The geographic boundaries of the District generally encompass approximately 32,000 acres of land within the Truckee Meadows that were irrigated in 1929, together with portions of land in the Truckee canyon east of Sparks. While many of these lands are no longer used for agricultural purposes, they remain subject to the obligations created in 1929 when the District was established.
As a result of droughts and uncertainty of the outcome of the then-pending Orr Ditch Litigation, in 1929 the District began investigating the feasibility of constructing a dam and reservoir on the Little Truckee River in Boca, California and secured a license to store up to 40,850 acre feet in what would later become Boca Reservoir. On July 1, 1935, the District, Sierra Pacific Power Company, the Truckee Carson Irrigation District, and the United States, along with certain individual parties, entered into the Truckee River Agreement to facilitate entry of a stipulated settlement of the Orr Ditch Litigation. The stipulations in that agreement were contingent on construction of additional upstream storage on the Truckee River. Ultimately, that additional upstream storage was provided through construction of Boca Reservoir, which was approved by the United States in 1935.
On March 3, 1936, the Truckee River Agreement and a proposed Repayment Contract with the United States for the construction of Boca Reservoir were presented to the electors of the District. Both were approved at an election on April 7, 1936, and construction of the Boca Reservoir was completed in 1939.
The District has been responsible for the care, operation and maintenance of the Boca Dam since 1942. The District continues to fund ongoing maintenance and operations of the Boca Dam.
The District is not a typical irrigation district. It owns no water rights, owns no diversion works or structures, delivers no water, has no customers, and has no contracts to deliver water to any person. Surface water from the Lake Tahoe and Truckee River Basins is the primary source of water stored in Boca Reservoir, and the Reservoir serves, among other functions, as a critical drought supply. Releases from Boca Reservoir are directed by the Federal Water Master appointed by the Orr Ditch Decree Court.