Churchill County officials conducted their second town hall meeting within a month to advise the community of the latest flood mitigation plans in response to the heavy snow pack and water content in the Sierra Nevada.
Churchill County Manager Jim Barbee said Thursday the forecast hasn’t changed much since the first town hall meeting. He said there’s no guarantee if there will be or not be any flooding.
“We are preparing to protect life and property. We ask you in the community to do the same,” he said.
Barbee said the county and its partners will be able to forecast any flooding threats in about 48 hours.
One big difference from 2017 is the Rafter 3C Complex, which opened last year. He said the 75,000-square-foot facility has emergency operation generators, and residents who are displaced from their homes will be able to report to the arena and set up temporary shelter.
The county also has 350 recreational vehicle spaces on Miners Road, and the Rafter 3C has also enough room on its property to accommodate livestock. Barbee said if the Rafter 3C Arena is booked or has a show coming in, the county can move or cancel the event to accommodate residents.
Barbee also directed residents to flow maps hanging up in the concourse to show the number of cubic feet per second the Carson River is flowing. He said four colors represent the flow from 2,000 cfs to 5,000 cfs.
Cubic feet per second is the flow rate or discharge equal to one cubic foot of water per second. This rate is equivalent to about 7.48 gallons per second.
The water flowing into the Lahontan Reservoir from the Carson River is currently at 2,800 cfs.
Incident Commander Caleb Cage told residents at the Rafter 3C Arena mitigation efforts are continuing. He said the building of a second weir to release water from the V-line canal is underway, and the construction of berms in the Carson pasture 10 miles south of Fallon will control the water.
With the opening of the first weir, water is being diverted from the canal south into the desert and then east under U.S. Highway 95 about 13 miles south of Fallon. The water is flowing into a channel called the Big Dig, which then carries the water to the Stillwater Wildlife Refuge.
Cage said the Bureau of Reclamation and the Truckee Carson Irrigation District are monitoring water release. He also said the mitigation measures constructed in 2017 such as the weir and Big Dig are helping in the latest mitigation efforts. He added all the measure being implemented at this time are done with the cooperation of Churchill County, the city of Fallon, state and federal agencies and tribal governments.
“We are managing water flow from the snow melt, and we ask all of you to look at your own situation,” Cage said, adding property owners should consult with their insurance providers if flood insurance is needed. “Stay informed and prepared.”
Cage said if property and business owners need sandbags, they can call the call center. Sandbags are available on Miners Road across the from the Rafter 3C Arena.
Sandbags may be picked up from 485 Miners Road at the following times: Monday through Friday: 10 a.m. to noon and again from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For seniors and residents with mobility issues who live on the Carson River, sandbag delivery is available by calling the call center at 775-867-5923.
Jack Worsley, area manager for Reclamation, said about 1.1 million acre-feet of water content remains in the Sierra. He said the total is higher than the total derived from the 2017 flooding. Out of the 1.1 million acre feet, he said the Lahontan Reservoir could receive between 68-80% or 650,000 to 800,000 acre-feet of water.
An acre-foot of water is equivalent to a football field inundated with one foot of water.
“The biggest flow may be at the end of May or first of June,” Worsley said.
Worsley assured the townhall participants Lahontan Dam and the other facilities are in good shape.
“How it (water) comes in is an unknown,” he said.
Currently, water is being reduced from Lahontan Reservoir. He said about 200,000 acre-feet is available out of a reservoir that holds at east 300,000 acre-feet.
The water call center telephone number is 775-867-5923, and it will be staffed weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Barbee said there’s also a dedicated email address. Highwater23@churchillcountynv.gov.
Barbee said people should use the email address or telephone number for non-emergency calls.
Important websites to remember:
• City of Fallon: www.fallonnevada.gov
• Churchill County: www.churchillcountynv.gov
• Truckee River Operating Agreement (water reports): www.troa.net
• Lahontan Valley News: nevadaappeal.com