Flood Control

A panel that oversees flood control management in the Truckee Meadows is considering new restrictions on developers in flood-prone areas.

After the 1997 flood devastated large sections of Reno, city officials in 2004 adopted regulations requiring that builders in certain areas remove as much fill dirt as they deposit, so as not to cause floodwaters to rise.

But experts since have determined the ratio likely is not enough to offset flooding potentials.

The Flood Project Coordinating Committee, which consists of officials from Washoe County, Reno and Sparks, plans a public workshop Tuesday.

"We need to be doing something so that as this community grows and prospers ... we do not do something that makes flooding worse," said Paul Urban, Washoe County flood control manager.

Changes are proposed for an area designated as Critical Flood Zone 1, a part of the flood plain roughly 4,000 acres in size that stretches from the Truckee River along Steamboat Creek as far south as Double Diamond.

The proposals come as the local entities pursue an $890 million project to protect existing homes from the flooding that regularly occurs along the Truckee River.

"You don't want to add more water in to cause overtopping or failure of the project," said Naomi Duerr, flood project director. "We need to protect our protection."

One proposal would require a greater level of excavation for each amount of fill allowed for development. Another avoids a specific excavation ratio, but could require developers to prove "no adverse impact" from their project.

Any changes would not affect residential projects in the area that are already approved or in the approval process, including thousands of homes proposed on portions of the Butler Ranch and Bella Vista Ranch, said John Hester, Reno community development director.

"We wouldn't go back and do anything retroactive," Hester said.

Reno Councilwoman Jessica Sferrazza, chairwoman of the flood committee, said with vast areas still undeveloped, the time to impose restrictions is now.

Otherwise, she said, "By the time we get something implemented, it will all be developed; and then it won't matter anymore."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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