FERNLEY, Nev. (AP) - Federal officials say water flows in the Truckee Canal that breached and flooded hundreds of homes in January should be increased by next week.
Betsy Reike, area manager for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said flows will increase to 250 cubic feet per second by May 10 after officials review final reports on emergency, maintenance, monitoring and improvement plans for the century old water system.
Water flow has been limited to 150 cfs - dramatically less that peak capacity of 750 cfs - since the canal resumed carrying water in March after emergency repairs.
"We're headed to the next stage," Reike told about 130 farmers and residents during a briefing Tuesday night in Fernley.
"We're headed to 250 cfs with this 33 percent of the typical maximum flow."
The 32-mile earthen canal built in 1903 is owned by the Bureau of Reclamation but operated by the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District.
The federal agency determined burrowing rodents were the primary
cause of the Jan. 5 canal break that flooded nearly 600 homes and led to state and federal disaster declarations.
Another public meeting was planned Thursday night in Fallon to discuss the agencies' water flow and system improvement plans.
Once reports are reviewed by May 9, Reike said the additional water will be in the canal by May 10 barring unforeseen circumstances.
After the BOR and TCID monitor the increased flow for a period of time, she said the next step is to increase the water flow to 350 cfs, which is 47 percent of the typical flow.
Because the water is still running low in the canal, TCID has used several pumps to draw the water to farmers' lands. One Fernley farmer said he would like to see more pumps installed to help pump in more water.
Dave Overvold, TCID project manager, said the pumps cost $10,000 a month and are using 100 gallons of gas a day.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)