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SPK-2007-01873, Traditional Navigable Water Determination for Walker Lake in Nevada

Published Feb. 18, 2022

On February 14, 2022, the Commander of the South Pacific Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that Walker Lake is a traditional navigable water pursuant to the Clean Water Act and 33 CFR §328.3(a)(1).  The determination was made based on a report of findings prepared by the Sacramento District.

The term “traditional navigable waters,” as used here, are those waters described at 33 CFR §328.3(a)(1): all waters which are currently used, or were used in the past, or may be susceptible to use in interstate or foreign commerce, including all waters which are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide.

For more than a century Walker Lake was used in several commercial capacities including passenger, freight and construction transport, commercial trout fishing, commercial carp fishing, and organized boat racing. From the 1860s to the 1890s small steamers transported people and freight as part of a toll road connecting the mines south of the lake with the railroads to the north. From the 1870s to the 1920s, trout were commercially harvested. After the completion of the Carson and Colorado Railroad in 1881, much of this trout was transported by rail by Paiute tribe members to markets in towns along the railroads. Boats were used to transport people, supplies, mail, equipment, and ore across Walker Lake from the mining camps on the west shore to the railroad on the east shore during a 1906-1907 mining rush caused by the removal of Walker Lake from the Walker River Indian Reservation. During highway construction along the west shore of the lake in 1919-1921, boats were again used to transport materials, equipment, and supplies from the railroad along the east shore to the construction camps on the west shore. From the late 1920s to the late 1940s Walker Lake was used for commercial carp fishing with the carp shipped by rail to out-of-state markets. In the late 1940s and again from the 1960s to 1991, Walker Lake was used for organized boat racing events. Participants came from across the country to compete for substantial prize money.

We anticipate that this stand-alone TNW determination will reduce the need for case-specific analyses, saving time and effort and increasing consistency and predictability.