Reclamation decision expected on Truckee Canal

Kim Lamb/Nevada Appeal News Service The Bureau of Reclamation will announce its decision tonight at a meeting in Fernley whether or not to allow water to flow into the Truckee Canal.

Kim Lamb/Nevada Appeal News Service The Bureau of Reclamation will announce its decision tonight at a meeting in Fernley whether or not to allow water to flow into the Truckee Canal.

FERNLEY - When will the water flow?

That's been the question everyone has been asking since the Truckee Canal breach was fixed one month ago.

Close to 400 people are expected to attend a meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at Fernley High School, 1300 Highway 95A, to hear the Bureau of Reclamation's final decision on the future of the Truckee Canal, the 32-mile canal that takes water diverted from the Truckee River at Derby Dam and delivers it to water users in Fernley and Hazen before terminating at Lahontan Reservoir.

Jeff McCracken, spokesman for BOR, said safety was the bureau's primary concern before it even considered running water down the canal again.

"We wanted to ensure we had all the information that had been developed, reviewed and analyzed before we made our decision," McCracken said. "It took an incredible amount of review by a number of engineers and policy people to ensure we made the right decision. We walked the entire 32 miles of that canal as part of this evaluation. It was pretty intensive work."

The bureau will not discuss its final decision with the public until the meeting, although the city of Fernley and the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District have been notified of the decision via letter.

The canal breach was completed Feb. 18, within six weeks of the break early on Jan. 5 when cold water from the canal rushed into 400 homes below the canal.

"I don't think they were dragging their feet," said Ernie Schank, board president of the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District. "They were just trying to do a thorough job so that when it is reopened, it's done so with the kinds of things they needed to condition."

Speaking on the final decision, Schank said it is one TCID can agree with, as the district has been working with BOR through the process to repair the breach.

Betsy Rieke, the BOR area manager for the Lahontan Basin office, will present at the meeting, along with Dave Gore, the chief engineer who was responsible for the engineering work on the breach fix.

McCracken said additional BOR personnel will be on hand to disseminate information, including how residents can file a claim against the bureau for damages or injuries.

"There is a process that people have to go through if they want to file a claim against the federal government," McCracken said. "If they don't go through that process within a timely period they lose the ability to file a claim.

"We're not saying we're admitting liability, we're not saying the Department of Justice is going to settle a suit; we're just providing information and a form will be available."

At least three separate lawsuits naming the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District have been filed in Nevada courts. Schank said TCID is just one party named in those lawsuits.

If You Go

What: Bureau of Reclamation meeting on the Truckee Canal operation

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: Fernley High School, 1300 Highway 95A

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