History of Topaz Lake

  Outlet Channel Dedication Ceremony Topaz Lake Outlet
Outlet Cannel-Looking East; Dedication Ceremony; Topaz Lake Outlet

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The lake was formed by the diversion of water from the West Walker River through a feeder canal and the construction of an outlet tunnel in the rim of the lake. Water storage began about December, 1921 with the entire project being completed in 1923. At that time the usable storage capacity was 45,000 acre feet. In 1937, a rock faced levee was constructed at the south end of the lake which raised the capacity to about 59,000 acre feet. The 1937 construction was done by the Army Corp of Engineers.

The water stored at Topaz serves the agricultural needs of Smith Valley and Mason Valley before ending at Walker Lake near Hawthorne, Nevada. Topaz Lake was one of the first storage reservoirs built. The Walker River Irrigation District was formed in April, 1919 for the purpose of storing surplus and flood waters of the Walker Rivers for better irrigation of old lands and irrigation of new lands.

The land consisted of a dry lake bed located in California and Nevada known as "Alkali Lake". The name "Alkali
Lake" created in the minds of the public a prejudice against the lake, when in fact, the waters were not effected by the alkali. That prejudice hindered the selling of bonds to carry on construction. As a result, the Legislature of the State of Nevada was requested to change the name from Alkali Lake to Topaz Lake.

Topaz Lake Today