TRUCKEE -- In a good year, Aaron Rudnick’s business, Truckee River Raft Company, and competitor Truckee River Rafting, would be open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
But for most of this season, the section of river where they operate between Tahoe City and Alpine Meadows Road was running too high. The rafters wouldn't fit under the bridges.
A couple of weeks ago, the flow was reduced just enough and rafting companies opened for business.
“So, we had about two weeks of perfect conditions and then they shut the dam down," Rudnick told FOX40.
Tuesday, the season was on hold again, this time because of low water.
On Sunday, Rudnick and his employees had to make a lot of difficult calls to customers who had reservations for this week.
"It kills me when we have to constantly call people and reverse reservations and refund and try to give them some other option,” Rudnick said.
The flows out of Lake Tahoe are managed by the federal government based on the Truckee River Operating Agreement. It's designed to maintain a delicate balance between the level of the lake and the levels of reservoirs downriver.
"It's a dozen different things that are factoring,” Rudnick said. “It's not as easy as three sunny days and we'll be back."
In the meantime, people can still take their own rafts on the section of the river. Many are doing it, but it requires a lot of paddling and some walking.
"It took us five hours because we were getting out walking the rafts through all the shallow parts,” said a man along the river.
"We actually had to get out and walk while we're in the river because it's that low," said a woman who had been rafting.
Thankfully, Rudnick has other sources of income. But he was concerned about his employees and looking for projects to keep them working.
"I mean, when you're one of the biggest summer employers, you've got more people that need to pay rent, to eat, to do things,” Rudnick said. “And those are the people I’m worried about. How can I keep them busy?"
The rafts were pumped and ready, but it's a deflated feeling waiting for word from regulators about the water flow.
"Very often we find out we are opening the day before we open," Rudnick told FOX40. "And if it's two, three weeks, you know that could be thousands of people you have to call and kind of break their hearts. And that gets hard repeatedly."
Rudnick said he expects them to be back in business after a brief break.
The temporary shutdown is mostly impacting the two major rafting companies on the Truckee River between Tahoe City and Alpine Meadows Road. Other companies running on other portions of the Truckee River are open for business.