Washoe County releases plans to prevent Swan Lake flooding

An atmospheric river is set to hit northern Nevada over the next few days.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 9:51 AM PST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - For many residents, the idea of wet weather in Lemmon Valley is a scary one.

Just six years ago, the flooded lake poured into homes in the area. With an atmospheric river set to hit northern Nevada over the next few days, Washoe County says this year will be different.

“Washoe County and the City of Reno have been very proactive in planning for this flood that we’re expecting,” said Dwanye Smith, Washoe County Director of Engineering and Capital Projects.

The county monitors a live camera pointed at the lake to watch water levels and collect water surface elevation data. Right now, the Swan Lake water elevation sits at 4,919.4 feet, which is about four feet lower than both flood instances in 2017 and 2019.

“We’ve learned a lot since 2017 about these closed basins and how they perform,” said Smith.

Now, Swan Lake has an overland pipeline that was intalled in 2020. This pipeline pumps water out of Swan Lake and into the American Flat, land north of the Reno-Stead Airport.

“What that does is during the summer irrigation season we can draw down the level of Swan Lake allowing more flood waters, more volume for flood waters in the winter,” said Trina Magoon, City of Reno Director of Utility Services.

Reno taxpayers funded the pipeline, costing over $2 million dollars.

In a story we did back in 2020, we were told this particular pumping method took about 4 inches out of the lake annually.

Washoe County and the City of Reno also says they are no longer taking a reactionary approach to flooding like they did in years past. Now, they have an action plan and are ready to respond.

“They’re based on elevations, we have equipment ready to deploy so that’s a big difference,” said Magoon.

Many of these new plans have yet to be tested by rising water levels like the ones that we saw six years ago.