Grant #292

River Justice: Pollution Reduction and Sustaining Water Quality

Healing Waters Institute (HWI) is submitting this grant in pursuit of the second year of a successful River Justice program. Within the past year, HWI has organized four large-scale River Justice clean-ups, hosted a drone training, hired two interns to assists with goals, strengthened organizational partnerships, and engaged local community members in water protection efforts. Indigenous Peoples of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (PLPT) are leading river protection efforts because the river cannot speak for itself. This is known as River Justice. Throughout settler history, we understand anthropogenic and extractive impacts have upset the freshwater and pristine condition of surface waters. Municipal, industrial, toxic, chemical, solid, and increased nutrients enter the Truckee River from the Cities of Reno/Sparks, Interstate 80, and other upstream communities. Much of this pollution flows downstream to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation and lower Truckee River, which threatens the Keystone species such as the federally endangered Cui-ui (Chasmistes cujus), and threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii henshawi). Keystone species are defined as species that define a region and bring specialized needs to this group of fish. Indigenous Peoples including the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe continue to protect their cultural and traditional connections to land and water. Indigenous Peoples advocate for Environmental Justice to prevent their homelands from contamination, extraction, and exploitation.

Every day, Native people connect and continue to protect water. Their everyday struggle to maintain traditional, cultural, and spiritual connections to land, air, and water is being threatened. This grant will support the above projects in order to achieve the long-term health of the waters, wildlife, and communities of the lower Truckee River. Further, it will promote the necessary work for the Truckee Meadows Water Authority and Community Foundations to find solutions to the problems. This project is positive and commits to being a true champion in Environmental Protection and working toward strategies with Indigenous Peoples.

Project Tracking and Monitoring River Health

Surveying and use of drones is a needed tool to monitor the progress of riparian corridor health. In our first grant year, we initiated drone training to increase the capacity and support the skills of Tribal members, volunteers and partners. The DJI Mavic drone will be flown over the Truckee River to monitor river health and project tracking for Truckee River Fund grant. We plan to schedule two trainings to assist surveying and monitoring River Justice cleanups.

Our data and survey methods are specifically designed to conform to the Truckee River Dashboard being developed by One Truckee River. We are committed to work as partners to deliver data more efficiently through the submittal of data through google forms. Trash removed from the river and added to the solid waste database will help track the dynamics of solid waste trends.

River Justice must be an ongoing program and is committed to engage more partners each year. We value that HWI will bring attention to aquatic invasive weeds, noxious weeds, erosion, sediment discharges, and restoration, revegetation, and other stewardship needs along the lower Truckee River, all of which will help the PLPT and other stakeholders identify and plan for future work to improve river health. HWI continues to collaborate with mutual aid programs to decrease food waste, use reusable/compostable dinnerware, and are steering partners to plan their own independent cleanups. This enables us to all share the costs and labor of Solid Waste reduction. We are solution-oriented and develop a focus to meet with potential and loyal partners frequently. Mutual aid groups are effectively strategizing efforts to reduce litter and solid waste within the Truckee Meadows.

Site Clean Ups

During the spring and fall of 2024, a reconnaissance team will identify four clean-up sites along the Truckee River and four sites on the shorelines of Pyramid Lake. This will involve coordination with Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility (TMWRF), Washoe County, Cities of Reno/Sparks, and River Justice

TMWA Benefit:

Our monitoring program will help identify challenges such as:

  • Continue to reduce waste pollution and increase water quality goals for the river.
  • Continue to recruit partners to provide stewardship and adding their organizational commitments to the watershed.
  • Produce a Pollution Reduction documentary for the public, Indigenous communities, TMWA customers and communities within the Truckee River Watershed which educates the success of River Justice