There are many ways we could measure area home usage to try to answer this question, but we focused-in on wastewater. Whether you’re super water-conscious or someone who likes to plan your day around hour-long showers, the wastewater totals tell a story of how many homes are using water. During COVID-19, comparing this past April’s wastewater totals to those of March 2019 give a sense of the volume of second homeowners using the area while short-term rentals are banned.

We spoke with LaRue Griffin, general manager of the Tahoe-Truckee Sanitation Agency, to get the smelly scoop.

[This data identifies] treatment plant flows from all member districts for 2019 and 2020. … In summary, [wastewater] flows are half of what they were this time last year …

[To understand the member districts included, Tahoe Sanitation District] is only one of the member districts that discharge to TTSA’s treatment plant. You can access and obtain more information on the agency and its member districts (with location map) from our website: service-area.

~ LaRue Griffin, general manager of the Tahoe-Truckee Sanitation Agency

TTSA Wastewater Flows, March – April 2019 v. 2020

This chart below (created by news editor Becca Loux using Datawrapper), shows each day from March 19 to April 19 (one month of a larger spring data set provided by Griffin). 2019 flows are depicted in dark green and the light green represents this year. The metric used is millions of gallons per day (MGD). Overall, the total wastewater flow TTSA is reporting between March 1 and May 4, 2020 is 191.31 MGD, versus 392.36 last year, meaning usage this spring has been 48.8% of last year’s.