Board agrees to sell DonnerLake assets |

Board agrees to sell DonnerLake assets

Steve Ranson
Residents make their way through a flooded intersection on Jenny’s Lane in Fernley in January 2008. TCID is holding two meetings later this month and a special election on Jan.4 to sell Donner Lake assets to help resolve the canal breach that flooded hundreds of homes.

The Truckee-Carson Irrigation District’s board of directors approved on Wednesday a sale agreement of Donner Lake assets dependent on a special election among the valley’s water users.

Two meetings will take place on Dec. 28 at the Fernley City Hall and Dec. 29 at the Churchill County Administration’s county commission chambers. Both meetings start at 6 p.m.

A special election for registered electors of the district is set for Jan. 4.

At an October special meeting to discuss the possible sale of water rights and the Donner Dam, TCID District Manager Rusty Jardine said the sale would satisfy existing legal claims including compensation to Fernley property owners whose property was damaged by floodwaters in January 2008.

Originally, Jardine said the district and other agencies and individuals faced $1 billion in tort claims, but to date, they have settled for $13.4 million. Jardine said he strongly feels TCID will be able to settle for $18.5 million.

Jardine said TCID is pursuing relief in the California Court of Appeals relating to its Donner Lake assets.

Jardine said the district bought its water interests in Donner Lake in 1943 for about $50,000, but the Truckee Meadows Water Authority is expected to buy water storage rights and dam facilities from TCID for $17.4 million. Since an appraisal was taken about one year ago, Jardine said the value has remained the same.

Furthermore, Jardine reiterated Wednesday that an approved sale by the water electors would also result in the lifting of a court imposed restriction of water flow in the Truckee Canal of 350 cubic feet per second (cfs).

Jardine said it is important to restore a higher flow in the canal to the Lahontan Valley’s ranchers and farmers.

Jardine can feel the end is almost here for resolving the litigation.

“Our intent is that this will provide a resolution to all claims (against TCID),” Jardine added

If a resolution goes as expected, Jardine said TCID will operate as though a cloud was removed and business will return as usual.

“We will concentrate on improving operations and maintenance of the project,” he said.

Ernie Schank, president of the TCID board of directors, said what was probably on every director’s mind.

“It’s been a long, hard process,” he said. “Is it perfect? Probably not but I have come to realize (that) all we will do if we continue the fight is we’re going to expend all our resources on the system.”

Board member Eric Olsen said the entire process has been frustrating.

“It’s been a long argued process,” said the Fallon dairyman. “We’re constantly under attack, but hopefully some of the burden is relieved.”

Olsen said because of recent and previous court cases — some made before he was born — TCID was viewed negatively.

“If we stand up for our rights, we are considered bad guys. If we don’t stand up for those rights, we’re going to lose those too.”