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Human beings and beavers can peacefully co-exist

Human beings and beavers can peacefully co-exist, Tahoe wildlife advocates said during a recent community forum, and Placer County officials agreed, vowing to explore alternatives to hunting and killing the animals.

Co-existence is especially practical since the recent advent of many Tahoe-based water flow control devices and techniques which successfully manage flooding hazards and damage to property associated with beavers and their dam building.

Water flow control devices, culvert protection fences, tree fencing and the use of cayenne pepper on tree trunks are some of the many management techniques used nationwide as a means of preventing the nuisance and hazards associated with beaver ponds.

Agencies play a waiting game

By Christy Lattin, LVN Community News Editor
Lahontan Valley News 1/6/09

Water flows through the Truckee Canal last week at 350 cubic feet per second. Maximum flow for the canal is 750 cfs which will be reached only after structural modifications are completed.

For the various government agencies involved with the Fernley flood of 2008, it’s become a waiting game — waiting for money, waiting for plans, waiting for each other and waiting for water.
Both the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District and the city of Fernley are waiting for sizable reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency more than one year after the cold flood waters soaked 590 homes on Fernley’s east side on Jan. 5.

The city of Fernley faced approximately $1 million in direct costs associated with the flood, said Bonnie Duke, city treasurer. The biggest portion of the cost was for repairing streets and sidewalks, pumping water from homes and distributing supplies in the days following the flood.
FEMA reimbursed the city about $500,000 so far, but the city would like to receive another $200,000.

Duke said she hopes to receive the money within the next three months. “Bottom line, half a million dollars came out of the city’s coffers,” Duke said, adding the money was taken from a grant-matching fund the city established for aiding community projects. “We’re lucky we had that other fund sitting there.”

TCID completed the emergency repair and the permanent earthen repair in January and submitted the necessary paperwork for the reimbursement, but they too are awaiting several hundred thousand dollars to cover 75 percent of the costs they incurred related to the flood.

Kate Rutan, executive secretary for TCID, said FEMA separated the repairs into five separate projects. The first two projects, the emergency and permanent earthen repairs, are completed and paperwork has been submitted for reimbursement. The remaining three projects include cleaning drains and pipe systems in the affected areas of Fernley. TCID can seek reimbursement once the projects are complete.

TCID is also waiting on a report from the Bureau of Reclamation before it can proceed on its plan to install a concrete wall in the north face of the Truckee Canal along the 11-mile stretch of the Fernley Reach. The district submitted a one-page proposal for the barrier project to BOR in October and received a five-page response.

Kenneth Parr, BOR Carson City Area Manager, said the Denver BOR office is working on alternative solutions to rehabilitate the canal. He hopes the report will be complete later this month.
When BOR’s alternatives report is complete, both BOR and TCID will work together to choose the best solution. Parr said TCID will be responsible for developing engineered plans for the barrier.
“If (TCID) has the staff to do it, they should do it,” Parr said. “If they don’t have the time or staff to do those plans, they can request the Bureau to do it and reimburse us for that, or go and seek a contractor.”

Dave Overvold, project manager at TCID, said he believes the barrier can be installed during the irrigation season once approved, and he gave a hopeful time frame of completing the project by the end of 2010.

In the meantime, area farmers will continue to wait for water. Lahontan Valley farmers in the Carson division received 80 percent of their water allocation last year while farmers in the Truckee division received 90 percent of their water allocation. The water forecast, though, is not promising.
The water supply conditions released by TCID on Monday states the forecast for the Carson River spring runoff is only 51 percent of average. Overvold said Lake Tahoe is almost empty, which means minimal diversions from the Truckee River. Historically, 25 percent of the water to Lahontan Reservoir comes from the Truckee River, Overvold said.

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TCID Water Supply Conditions

Updated Dec. 7, 2008
Submitted by Truckee-Carson Irrigation District to Lahontan Valley News

As of December 7, storage in Lahontan Reservoir was 27,352 acre-feet. Storage in Lahontan is expected to increase to about 37,200 acre-feet by the end of December.

The maximum Truckee Canal diversion allowed by the Bureau of Reclamation is 350 cfs, which is more than what is available of the Floriston Rates water that arrives at Derby Dam. For December the reduced Floriston Rate is 300 cfs, because Lake Tahoe is below elevation 6225.25.

On November 22 the Truckee Meadows Water Authority requested a further reduction in the Floriston Rates to 160 cfs pursuant to a supposedly never before used provision in the Truckee River Agreement. This provision allows Sierra Pacific to reduce Reduced Floriston Rates during the non-irrigation season not to exceed 6,000 acre-feet since the signing of the Truckee River Agreement in 1935. The Federal Water Master is not aware of this provision being used before.

The reasoning given by TMWA was that Floriston Rate water in Boca would be exhausted by about December 8. This change would extend the release of Floriston Rate water until about January 8.

Later, on December 5, TMWA requested Reduced Floriston Rates be increased from 160 cfs to 200 cfs. The reason given for this was to avoid increasing releases when the 6,000 acre-feet was reached and then reducing the releases after all Floriston Rates was exhausted.

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Lake level low

Daily Tribune: In the works for the weekend
Staff report

When the water in Lake Tahoe falls below the natural rim, at 6,223 feet, water stops flowing into the Truckee River. At midweek, Lake Tahoe measured 6,223.25. If the lake level drops below the natural rim, Tahoe turns into an enormous bathtub.

Lake level nears natural rim

Annie Flanzraich / North Lake Tahoe Bonanza
Dec. 4, 08

With Lake Tahoe’s water level nearing the natural rim, water authorities are hoping for record-breaking precipitation to bring the level up.

“We desperately need a big winter and a big snowpack to bring Lake Tahoe back up again,” said Federal Water Master Garry Stone.

When the water in Lake Tahoe nears the natural rim, at 6,223 feet, water flows more slowly into the Truckee River. At midweek the lake measured 6,223.25. Under normal conditions, the flow into the Truckee is about 250 cubic feet per second. The current rate is about 12 cubic feet per second, Stone said. If the lake level drops below the natural rim no more water will flow into the Truckee.

“We can’t get any more water out of it,” Stone said. “It’s like a bathtub, we do not have the ability to release water through the natural rim.”

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