UPDATE: NDOT posted at Hwy 95 culverts; breach plugged
Truckee-Carson Irrigation District and county construction crews using heavy equipment were able to repair an embankment and plug a breach at the Sheckler Reservoir dam Thursday afternoon.
TCID General Manager Rusty Jardine said crews will be at the site today to finish repairs.
Churchill County Sheriff Ben Trotter said the east side dam was compromised by water undermining a portion of it. After he received a report on the breach, he and a county employee drove out to the area to survey the situation and then followed up by calling Bill Lawry, the emergency incident commander for the county’s flood mitigation team.
Trotter said the breach occurred about 1/8-mile north of the south gate, which releases water onto the Navy’s Bravo 16 range. That range is primarily used for SEALs training.
Sheckler Reservoir, which was constructed by the Civilian Construction Corps in the 1930s, serves as part of the Newlands Project and is located about 10 miles southwest of Fallon and less than one mile south of Powerline Road.
“We haven’t used it much in the last few years, and this year it is being used to provide water in storage,” Jardine said.
Trotter said he had concerns about thousands of gallons of water flowing out of the reservoir if crews could not repair the breach. When full, Jardine said the reservoir holds up to 27,000 acre-feet of water; however, Jardine said the reservoir had only 15,000 acre-feet of water when the breach occurred.
If the breach had become worse, Trotter said thousands of gallons of water would have followed a natural path along the west side of the valley toward U.S. Highway 95 South. In March the Nevada Department of Transportation and Ames Construction installed four culverts that covered a three-mile stretch on U.S. 95 south of Pasture Road with a separation of three miles extending from the first to the fourth culvert.
The culverts were installed to handle the flow of water from an emergency spillway and weir, which were built off the V-line canal to help release additional water from Lahontan Reservoir. Jardine said the purpose was to prevent downstream flooding on the Carson River and increase the reservoir’s storage to accommodate additional water from Sierra runoff.
NDOT spokesperson Meg Ragonese said Thursday night state crews were posted at the culverts, and another crew was standing by at Schurz in case traffic had to be re-routed.
Despite the addition of the culverts, Ragonese said the highway would close because of unexpected flooding over the roadway.
“There is also potential that future storms or rapid spring snow melt-off could cause storm water to flow over and temporarily close the highway,” Ragonese said after the construction was completed.