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Lemmon Valley residents remember flooding, look warily at fresh snow and rain

Published: Jan. 29, 2021 at 6:39 PM PST
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LEMMON VALLEY, Nev. (KOLO) - On Friday, Swan Lake hardly looked anything like a threat. A couple of dry winters and a pumping project have seen it recede far from the HESCO barriers that were installed not so long ago to keep it at bay.

It was a different scene not so long ago. The wet winter of 2016-2017 turned what had in most years been primarily a desert playa into a real lake whose waters flowed into neighborhoods, threatening, even damaging homes.

With the long dry spell this year finally broken and the snow deep in the neighborhoods and surrounding hillsides, residents here can be excused for an uneasy feeling.

“As soon as this melts, if it melts fast, it will end up in the lake,” says Tammy Holt of the Lemmon Valley-Swan Lake Recovery Committee.

For the record, county officials say they share that concern, but they say they continue to monitor Swan Lake and there’s a lot of room for runoff in the lake today and plans and measures remain in place.

The issues out here go far beyond concerns about the weather. Residents have taken the city of Reno to court over moves than saw water from another former dry lake at Stead diverted into Swan Lake and, they charge, development above the lake helped increase runoff into the lake below. But the memory of flooding is still fresh.

“It will be a concern until the city of Reno and the county get on the stick and fix it,” says Holt.

A fix, according to Holt, would include another destination for Swan Lake’s excess water.

“They keep wanting to compare it to a bathtub. A bathtub has a pop-off valve. We need a pop-off valve.”

In the meantime, people here will keep a wary eye on their lake and the weather.

“We pray it stays snow or it stays cold.”

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