FERNLEY - Residents of Fernley, Fallon and parts of Churchill and Lyon counties may end up being taxed to help pay for necessary improvements to an irrigation canal that failed and flooded nearly 600 homes in January.
The Truckee-Carson Irrigation District is proposing an assessment of $1.50 per acre for residents within the TCID district, including farmers, ranchers and city dwellers, TCID Board President Ernie Schank said.
"The purpose would be to keep the Truckee Canal flowing," Schank told the Lahontan Valley News. "The Bureau (of Reclamation) is going to require substantial capital improvements in order to utilize it at its full capacity."
The assessment would raise about $300,000 per year in Churchill County, which is home to the majority of the district, said Dave Overvold, TCID project manager.
The bureau estimates the cost of repairs ultimately needed to restore the canal to full capacity range from $28 million to line one half of the 32-mile-long canal with riprap to $390 million to replace the canal with a 16-foot diameter pipeline.
Former mayor Dave Stix Jr., now a TCID board member, planned to present the proposal to the Fernley City Council Wednesday night.
TCID used to collect general assessments to fund improvements but discontinued the practice in the early 1990s when homeowners complained they were being taxed without representation, Schank said.
That concern would be addressed under the new scenario by establishing the Truckee Canal Safety Committee to oversee the funds, he said. He proposes including elected representatives from Churchill and Lyon counties, Fernley, Fallon and the TCID board.
"When talking with legal counsel, we felt it's an opportunity to show it's not just the TCID board spending money; it would go to an impartial board," Schank said.
"We have to realize this is a community thing. The benefits of water in this community is not just for ag, it's not just for wildlife, not just for recreation, but also for ground water supplies and municipal water supplies. Everybody benefits from having this water," Schank said.
The proposed Truckee Canal Safety Committee has been discussed with individuals from the Fallon and Churchill County, Schank said, while Stix will discuss it with Lyon County and Fernley officials.