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Storm Water Program on track to making Carson safer community

Sandi Hoover
shoover@nevadaappeal.com

By Sandi Hoover

shoover@nevadaappeal.com

With the New Year’s floods of 1997 and 2005 not easily forgotten by most Carson City residents, the city’s Public Works Department continues to focus on projects intended to minimize property damage.

Rob Fellows, the city’s chief storm water engineer, told the board of supervisors this past week that many projects are under way and planned to protect flood-prone areas.

Construction of the freeway, Fellows said, has changed the landscape not only in terms of transportation, but also in terms of flooding, because the state builds retention ponds as part of its construction process.

“The freeway has had a huge impact on our floodplain,” Fellows said.

But there are a number of activities within the city which have had an effect on the progress of the storm water program. Some of the highlights are:

• 1997 New Year’s flood

• 1999 Freeway project begins

• 2000 Shenandoah basin completed

• 2001 Freeway Phase 1A completed

• 2002 Silver Oak basins completed

• 2003 Storm Water Utility adopted

• 2004 Waterfall Fire

• 2005 New Year’s flood

• 2005 Waterfall Fire protective measures completed, Vicee basin completed

• 2006 Topographic survey completed

• 2007 Eagle Creek basins completed, Regional Medical Center, Coombs Canyon basins completed, flood damage recovery completed, Goni Wash re-study and re-mapping begins

• 2008 Carson River Watershed Regional Floodplain Management Plan prepared, Federal Lands Bill passes Congress

• 2009 Community Rating System of 6 given by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Fellows said that each event in the timeline is significant to the city’s Storm Water Program.

The Waterfall fire required that the city take on a number of capital projects it wouldn’t have had to face so soon.

Vicee Basin is capable of handling back-to-back 100-year floods and protects about one-third of the city, he said.

And the Federal Lands Bill allows the city to move ahead faster on properties where projects need to be done.

Also worth noting, Fellows said, is that Carson City is considered a “storm-ready community,” which involved meeting stringent criteria including how to communicate with the public in the event of a flood.

The CRS of 6 results in a reduction in the city’s flood insurance premiums.

“We have a 20 percent reduction in premiums here, and my goal is to get to a 4 rating, which correlates to less damage to a community,” he said.

Douglas County also has a 6 rating, and Washoe County is 7. Only one city in the country can brag it has a rating of 1 – Roseville, Calif.

City Manager Larry Werner said the investments made in storm water projects during the next 30 years will be cost effective, and that rates will likely need to be raised in the future.

Residents pay about $3 a month per home, he said, and the utility generates about $1.2 million a year.