Preserving flood plain key to control

Mother Nature knows best, at least when it comes to flood control.

Ed James, executive director of the Carson Water Subconservancy District, told the Lyon County Commission he planned to fight flooding by using the natural function of the river.

"The alternative is to channel the river, which doesn't benefit anything and has a negative impact on the habitat," he said.

The district has developed a regional flood management strategy that focuses on encouraging planning directors and elected officials in counties along the Carson River to limit development close to the river.

Lyon County is negotiating with a property owner to purchase land east of Dayton State Park to be used for a flood plain, in accordance with James' plan.

They don't plan on banning development entirely, James said, but preserving the flood plain, purchasing open space and conservation easements along the river would go a long way toward preventing disastrous floods.

"Anytime it floods, regardless of what the cost is, it is a miserable experience for those who are affected," he said.

James will present the complete mitigation plan to the Lyon County Planning Commission on June 9.

Work on the plan has been going on for 2 1Ú2 years, he said.

James also told the commissioners his organization was available to help with intercounty water like the partnerships Lyon County and Carson City are creating.

He said the water district will help fund inter-ties or help with increasing pipe size.

In the past, James said, officials were afraid that inter-ties would lead to water theft, but now many see it as a benefit for providing water during peak use periods, fighting wildfires and dealing with arsenic issues.

He said entities may want to consider coordinating watering days so as to limit confusion among residents about when they can irrigate their land. The water district also is focusing on a way to supply water under drought conditions.

The Carson River has 11 water purveyors along it, each of which has its own boards and water rights. He said officials of communities along the river need to educate legislators about the Carson's needs and the officials' actions, reminding the commissioners that most legislators come from the Las Vegas area and are unfamiliar with the district's work.

"We need to make sure what works in this area, stays in this area," he said.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-7351.

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