North side water release is intentional
October 26, 2006
Water flowing down College Parkway this week originates from the temporary retention basin at the end of Vicee Canyon.
After seeing the water moving down the street and noticing barriers to keep the water from diverting from its prescribed route, “I was wondering what the noise was,” said LeeAnn Saarem, who lives in the neighborhood. “It was the water being pumped out of the basin.”
Workers will clean out the basin after the water is emptied from it so it can safely reach its 200 acre-foot storage capacity. Water removal should continue for another couple of days, according to city officials.
Debris from the 2004 Waterfall fire continue to slide from the hills and will do so until new vegetation takes root in the burn area. Once that mud flow is reduced, the basin will be modified and redesigned for use as a long-term retention basin, said Larry Werner, city engineer.
Vicee, Ash and North Kings canyons were deemed to be at high risk of sustaining damage because of post-fire debris flowing downward, according to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
While the temporary basin built in summer 2005 serves an important purpose during wet winters, “right now, it’s just a hole in the ground,” Werner said.
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During the New Year’s flooding, the amount of water that flowed into the basin only reached 50 acre-feet. It was at roughly 25 acre-feet when water releases began Monday, said Robert Fellows, the city’s chief stormwater engineer.
The idea is to release water into the storm drain system along College Parkway, and to do it while the weather is warm enough. Frozen water on the street would create a safety hazard, Fellows said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided the city with the money to repair the temporary basin. FEMA estimated that the post-flood work would cost $290,000, Fellows said.
It cost $8 million to extinguish the Waterfall fire and at least that much more to restore the area, said Fire Chief Stacey Giomi. That fire destroyed 17 homes and injured five people.
Federal funds to create the flood-control basin only provided enough for a temporary system to protect residents from the added flood dangers that can occur because of added material falling from the hills after a wildfire, Werner said.
• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.