Jump to Navigation

Long-term canal repairs to cost millions

By Jeff DeLong, www.rgj.com • June 10, 2008

Trappers are removing rodents that helped cause last winter's breach of an irrigation canal east of Reno, but a long-term solution to the problem will take years and cost millions, a federal official told a panel of Nevada lawmakers Monday.

Kenneth Parr, a deputy area manager for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, briefed a legislative committee on the status of the Truckee Canal, which broke Jan. 4 and flooded nearly 600 Fernley homes.

Experts concluded that muskrats and beavers burrowing into the canal's earthern embankment weakened it and caused its collapse, Parr told the Legislative Committee to Oversee the Western Regional Water Commission.

To help prevent a recurrence, the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District recently started a program to trap rodents along an 11-mile stretch of the canal where it flows through Fernley, Parr said.

"It's to prevent the problem of the animals going in there and creating that burrowing ... issue in the canal," Parr said.

The trapping effort, Parr said, represents only a short-term solution to protecting the Fernley area from dangers posed by burrowing rodents.

A longer-term solution will be the construction of a concrete rodent barrier on the canal's north embankment along the 11-mile section, Parr said. Experts have begun analyzing the project, and while no precise estimate is available, it likely will cost in the millions of dollars, he said.

"We believe the canal, especially in the Fernley area, will require substantial structural improvements," Parr said. "It will be many years to get this done, and it will be extremely expensive."

The 32-mile-long canal, owned by the Bureau of Reclamation but operated and maintained by the irrigation district, carries water from the Truckee River to Fernley and Fallon.

Repairs to the breached portion were completed in mid-February and the flow of water steadily ramped up since late March to the current level of 350 cubic feet per second.

For entire article, please visit website.