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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.

Flood Control Project to Drain Flood-Prone Sparks Area

Initial work to redirect floodwater that regularly submerges parts of Sparks started Wednesday, with officials calling it a milestone in wider efforts to reduce flooding along the Truckee River.

Crews installed massive drainage culverts that will route floodwater near Sparks Boulevard. It is the first phase of improvements to the North Truckee Drain, which carries storm water to the river from Spanish Springs and east Sparks. During floods the drain, which now empties into the river near its confluence with Steamboat Creek, causes water to back up and flood the Sparks industrial area as well as parts of University Farms across the river.

At a cost estimated between $60 million and $70 million, officials plan to move the drain's outlet about 1,400 feet downstream, substantially reducing flooding problems. The initial phase of work is timed to coincide with a repaving project on Interstate 80 planned by the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Locals Prepare For High Waters

KOLO-TV Mar 4, 2009
By Auburn Hutton

RENO - One mention of heavy rain in our area, and thoughts about flooding always come to mind.

Residents of Fernley learned the hard way last winter, that it's not always easy to predict when a flood will occur. Local emergency managers say there are no flood watches or warnings currently, but nonetheless, locals aren't taking any chances.

The Truckee River is known for overflowing about every ten years. The most recent major floods were in 1997, and then again in 2006. While we're still not due for a large flood until the year 2016, some people are already getting prepared.

Jad Fricke maintains the building at the Edison Industrial Park in East Reno. Sand is already piled up in his parking lot and a boat is sitting on standby. He says he's seen the area flood three times, so when rain comes in large doses, the Truckee becomes his worst enemy. "When it gets to be a foot below that ledge, I get a little concerned," said Fricke.

Crews who take care of the Last Chance Ditch in Southwest Reno are also busy clearing out space for heavy water flows. A flood there last winter left up to six feet of water in people's yards and basements. They say the clean-up is just preventative, in case the storm sticks around.

Washoe County Emergency Manager, Aaron Kenneston, is reviewing flood plans, and answering questions from local disaster response managers who are concerned about the rain. But Kenneston says a flood is still a long ways away. The Truckee's downtown water level has peaked at under six feet. Flood monitoring only begins when it reaches 11 feet. But still, Kenneston says predictions about storms are not always perfect.

"Clearly, the Fernley flood, that was a classic example. We were ready for flooding in the Reno-Sparks area, and it happened in Fernley. In those cases, that's why they call it a crisis," said Kenneston.

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Project TamesTruckee Floods By Turning To Nature

Sep 18, 2008
KOLO TV-8, Reporter: Ed Pearce

There were speeches beneath the big cottonwoods just east of the Tracy Power Station Thursday morning and shiny shovels stood ready for ceremonial groundbreaking. In fact, ground was broken at what was once the 102 Ranch a month ago. A brand new meander has been carved for the river. Nearby big earth movers are beginning to create what will be new wetlands.

By late fall, this stretch of the Truckee River will start to resemble the healthy habitat nature intended, like another spot a few miles upstream. There what was once McCarran ranch was bought by the Nature Conservancy and the river and the land was restored to something resembling what it was before the ranch was built in the 1880's. In fact, the meander there was built, rock riffles added to the stream bed, native vegetation restored. Nearby new wetlands are already well established. A few years after it was built, it's just about ready for public access and recreation. More than that it's also ready for the next flood.

"It slows the water and when it floods it just spreads out over the flood plain and holds it, creating storage and keeping it from rushing downstream where it could cause damage, says Danielle Henderson, the Natural Resource Manager for the Truckee River Flood Project.”It's like a big sponge."

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River recreation plan unveiled

By Jeff DeLong, Reno Gazzette Journal
June 14, 2008

Trails, ballparks, picnic sites and a major regional park are included in a new recreation plan linked to flood-control improvements planned along the Truckee River. A conceptual recreation strategy for the $800 million Truckee River flood project was unveiled Friday and will serve as a key component of the overall effort, officials said.

"The recreational component is huge," said Jessica Sferrazza, a Reno City Council member and part of a coalition of local governments pushing for construction of the flood project. The draft plan, prepared by Stantec Consulting, Inc., in Reno, will be forwarded to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for further analysis, including feasibility and cost. Substantial changes are possible.

Recreational features of the project are designed to fit within the footprint of changes planned along the river to reduce flood damage and restore river ecology. The "living river" strategy favored by Reno, Sparks and Washoe County would rely less on levees and flood walls to control flooding than other options. It would allow floodwaters to spread naturally over undeveloped land, including areas where the river bank will be terraced.

Much of that land is seen as ideal to enhance recreational opportunities for Truckee Meadows residents at times when the river is not flooding.

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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.

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Flows Allowed To Increase Again In Nevada Canal That Breached In January

Source: KOLO TV-8
May 19, 2008

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has authorized another increase in flows in an irrigation canal that breached on January 5 and flooded hundreds of homes in Fernley, 30 miles east of Reno.

Bureau officials on Friday allowed the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District to increase flows in the 31-mile Truckee Canal from 250 cubic feet per second to 350 cfs - about one-half of the canal's typical maximum flow.

Bureau officials say the move was approved after the irrigation district implemented a special rodent control program and took earlier corrective and safety steps.

In March, a team of scientific experts concluded in a report for the bureau that burrowing rodents caused the century-old canal to fail and damage nearly 600 homes in Fernley.

Bureau officials have said any boost in flows beyond 350 cfs will require significant modifications of the canal, something the bureau does not anticipate this year or possibly even next.

The canal takes water from the Truckee River near Fernley to farms and ranches around Fallon, 60 miles east of Reno.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Judge denies request to allow tests before Truckee Canal reopens

Source: Lahontan Valley News
March 14, 2008,

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday rejected a request by an attorney representing dozens of victims of a Jan. 5 flood in Fernley to conduct tests before the federal government reopens an earthen canal that ruptured and inundated hundreds of homes.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge Valerie P. Cooke indicated she could revisit the issue at a March 28 conference after lawyer Robert Maddox tries to reach an agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on an inspection.

Maddox represents the owners of about 80 flooded homes in a class-action lawsuit filed in Lyon County District Court in Yerington against the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District.

He said he wanted his experts to inspect the canal to ensure its safety before it reopens. The reclamation bureau has scheduled a Thursday meeting in Fernley to discuss the canal’s reopening.

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Commisioners to consider resolution on opening Truckee Canal

Posted: 2/22/2008

The Lyon County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider approval of a resolution this week calling for immediate re-opening of the Truckee Canal and cessation of efforts to close that waterway.

The draft resolution the board will consider this Thursday (February 21)is a result of the early January break in the canal, which runs through Fernley, carries water from the Truckee River to Lake Lahontan and which was established in the early 1900s by the Newlands Reclamation Project.

The commission meeting starts at 9 a.m. and is being held in the meeting room of the Silver Springs Community/Senior Center at 2945 Fort Churchill Road in Silver Springs.

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Martis Dam risks still being studied

Remote control gates high priority for flood control
By Greyson Howard
February 7, 2008

Reservoir levels
20,400 acre-feet: Maximum flood control capacity
5,000 acre-feet: Water storage level
800 acre-feet: Fall 2007 level
786 acre-feet: Current level

Field work has temporarily halted on the Martis Dam until the snow melts, but the Army Corps of Engineers is still working to assess the risk the dam poses.

Located three miles east of Truckee in the Martis Valley, the 36-year-old earthen-fill dam has been categorized as an “extremely high risk” by the Corps for seepage issues. Geologists blame the coarse glacial soil for the seepage that could destabilize the dam, making it one of the six riskiest dams in the nation.

The dam’s ranking comes not only from the probability of failure, but also the consequences downstream, which in this case is the flooding of the Truckee River Canyon and a large part of Reno, said Ronn Rose with the Dam Safety Assurance Program last fall.

But as investigations continue, water levels are being kept at a minimum, so the dam poses no immediate threat, said the Corps’ Project Manager Veronica Petrovsky. According to a situation report issued at the beginning of the month, only 786 acre-feet of water are in the reservoir, or about 4 percent of the gross pool.

“Right now we are working on automation for the flood gates so we can remotely operate them,” Petrovsky said. “Now somebody has to do it manually at the dam for flood control so inclement weather or deep snow precludes us from getting to the gates — this will increase the level of safety. We’re excited about getting that in place.”

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