How the water flows |

How the water flows

Michael Adams
For the Lahontan Valley News
The road that crosses in front of the Carson Diversion Dam has been blocked off because of water on the roadway.

How water flows through the valley including down the Carson River and through the canals and into laterals and takeouts becomes a rather complicated process.

This is not an easy task to explain and is going to turn into a very long narrative, but I am going to try to abbreviate where I can, and hopefully remain informative.


Water leaves Lake Lahontan via the Carson River for roughly five miles to the Carson Diversion Dam. At this dam it splits three ways. The T-Line canal takes off to the north and crosses the Reno Highway near Leetville Junction and then splits again three ways into the Pearl Spill, T-Line and N-Line. The T-Line continues around behind Soda Lake, across Soda Lake road and through farms and ranches until it meets up and parallels Rice and Old River roads, where it finally turns east and terminates into the Carson River at Sagouspi Reservoir about five miles north of Fallon.

The Pearl Spill is a wasteway that sends water north toward Massie Slough filling many small lowland areas along the way. This spill is not used for irrigation but rather to relieve pressure on a full canal.

The N-Line follows Brush Garden Drive across Trento Lane then Rockwood Place, under the railroad tracks and then parallel to the tracks under Lucas Road, along Zephyr Lane, under Roberson Lane, then comes into Soda Lake Road and parallels it on the west side until it goes under the Reno Highway. From there it crosses through more farm land, under McLean Road, goes out through the corner of Norm Frey’s property and dumps back into the Carson River.


The Carson River, as it is now, is what we call the North Fork as there was once upon a time two tributaries in this valley, the North which goes pretty much the way it goes now, and the South that branched close to the area that is now Wal-Mart and proceeded south out to the Carson Pasture on the south end of the valley. Where the south fork once traveled has now been built up with farm land, houses and commercial buildings and has through construction been essentially filled in. The North Fork crosses under Sheckler Cut Off, McLean Road, Reno Highway to Coleman Dam (which diverts water into the S-line), Lovelock Highway, Bafford Lane, then to Sagouspi Reservoir, under Tarzyn Road, and then through the Wolf Dam and out to the Carson Sink.

To the south at Diversion Dam, the V-Line makes its way across the desert to the 26-foot drop power plant, and then it can either continue down the V-line or be diverted into Sheckler Inlet which goes to Sheckler Reservoir. The V-Line canal now parallels Bottom and Casey Road all the way to the Reno Highway through the following facilities:

As the V-line continues, it goes past Lewis Spill (which can spill excess water into the Carson River), through the V-C2 (C stands for check structure) and to the V-C3 Automation, which is where the A-Line takes out in a south direction. Continuing down the V-Line through the V-C4, V-C5 and V-C6 Automations, the V-C6 is the point where the L-Line canal goes south out of the V-Line. The V-Line continues through the V-C7 and V-C8 Automations along Coleman Road and then terminates into the S-Line which is where the water diverted from the Coleman Dam on the Carson River comes in.

The S-Line follows Coleman Road for a ways, crosses under the Lovelock Highway, follows Paiute Drive for a ways then under Rio Vista, and runs along the cemetery to Reservoir Road spilling some water into the S-Line (Rattlesnake for you old timers) Reservoir then east moving in and out of farm land until it goes past Harmon Reservoir where it supplies water, then down across country, crossing farmland and roads until it gets to the United States Fish and Wildlife Complex (USF&W) at Stillwater where it terminates.

The A-Line follows Strasdin Lane for a ways, then Sorensen Road for a ways, goes under Scheckler, St. Clair, Schindler and Allen roads. It then goes under U.S. Highway 95 through farmland under Pasture, Beach, and Macari roads and finally terminates at the Carson Lake Pasture and Greenhead Hunt Club and Nevada Department of Wildlife interests.

The L-Line follows Lattin Road for a ways and then parallels Wildes Road and goes under Allen, US 95, Maine Street, Harrigan, Crook, Harmon and U.S. Highway 50 road bridges and terminates into the Diagonal Drain which goes out to the USF&W complex.

Other lines include the D-line which leaves Sagouspi and goes to Indian Lakes, and the R-Line which takes off the S-Line at Stillwater Road and goes to the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe ground and out to the tribal wetlands and USF&W complex.


Some comments are that the canals look higher than normal, and people are afraid of being flooded. TCID maintains automations on many of its check structures and those work autonomously to maintain the level of the canal at a preset height, and are continually monitored and controlled via remote control as well as being linked to phone alarms that notify officials at TCID when something is wrong and the canal is getting too high or too low. We have had much experience knowing what can safely flow through all the canals and safety is our No. 1 priority. Residents may see canals and ditches running higher than normal, but they are still way within safe flow limits and are monitored by our staff day and night, but it goes without saying, if you see anything that does not look right, or want to inquire about potential problems, call the TCID office at 775-423-2141 Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If at night or on weekends call the Sheriff’s Office at 775-423-3116. They have contact numbers for all of us here at TCID and will route your call to someone who will call you back and/or investigate the problem.

If you’re unsure you’re in the flood plain, check with Churchill County by visiting with them at their office on North Taylor Street or go to…/basicv…/index.html…

If you are within the city limits, go to Fallon City Hall and inquire with them.

Michael Adams is the TCID Systems and Technologies manager