Extreme measures: Douglas County neighbors protect homes from flood waters

Douglas County is drying out after flood waters rose.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 7:11 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -Last Friday afternoon, runoff from the burn-scarred Pine Nut Mountains on Carson Valley’s east side turned the usually dry creek bed of Pine Nut Creek into a raging torrent.

A county crew watched, concerned the water would erode the banks, undercutting Fish Springs Road above. Soon they were dumping boulders into the critical spot, an emergency measure to save the roadway.

A few miles downstream, a new homeowner and some of his neighbors were at work on their own emergency measures because much of that water was headed their way and when it arrived through a former irrigation channel it would be headed toward a pipe that runs under his home, headed to others. It was clearly not up to the task.

“They’re sending roughly 300 to 400 cubic feet per second to a 68 cubic feet pipe,” observed a neighbor, Craig Parsons.

So, the homeowner, Parsons, and a few other neighbors, pitched in to help.

It had happened before. The pipe is easily clogged by debris. An overflow would cause all kinds of problems at the home and others.

“It’s actually come on to East Valley Road recently and it’s threatened overtopping the banks of those neighbor’s homes which are below this ditch.”

A reservoir was a short distance away, but something needed to be done to divert the water and contain the erosion.

Their solution was large concrete slabs, purchased and trucked in from Reno, lowered into the rushing water, the homeowner himself getting into the act, dangling from the cable and getting wet.

It was an extreme example of some spur-of-the-moment, emergency ad hoc amateur engineering. Hair raising, but apparently effective, at least for the moment.

It was, of course, nobody’s idea of a permanent fix, and the days and weeks ahead might call for more heroics like this.

“Once that water on the top starts to go up there,” Parsons said, gesturing at the snowpack on the mountains. “We’re just expecting more of the same and perhaps worse because there’s far more water up high. It’ll be complicated.”