Clay may stop Hesco Barriers from leaking in Lemmon Valley

LEMMON VALLEY, NV (KOLO) Pompe Way in Lemmon Valley was not only hit the hardest during the 2017 floods; as if to add insult to injury, the Hesco Barriers designed to keep Swan Lake water from homes here are now leaking and have been for several months.

On Tuesday September 3, 2019 crews began an experiment of sorts.

The county has purchased 12 tons of Bentonite--a clay used to seal ponds and cap wells, and use it to seal leaks in the walls.

“The hope is that the product doing the reduction of seepage is absorbed into the ground and below the Hesco barriers themselves and stays intact,” says Dylan Menes, Washoe County Senior Engineer.

Menes says the clay has been used on Hesco Barriers before in other communities.

The clay is heavier than water, and expands to about two times its size when exposed to moisture.

He says in the next three days he will assess which type of the product, a cat litter consistency or pellet type works best on the leaks.

Crews too are applying the product differently at various sites along the wall to see what method is most effective.

The final word on product type and best application will mean Pompe Way could soon remain dry.

After two years of promises, residents we talked to are understandably skeptical.

“You know about this clay, seems to me there was some water coming under the road down on the south end of Pompe during the late winter early spring time,” says Winn Winsett, a property owner in Lemmon Valley. “The clay may stop something over the top. But, I don't know what it is going to do underneath,” he says.

Menes says another benefit of the clay if it proves effective, water pump maintenance costs could be reduced.

Right now those pumps, located around Lemmon Valley, take leaking water from the barriers off the roadway.

Pump usage could be cut which means the county would not have to spend as much money on diesel, upkeep and manpower.