Lemmon Valley residents speak out about flooding

RENO, NV (KOLO) “All of us out in the valley, all we talk about is corruption,” said Leona Galau to the joint meeting of the Reno City Council and Washoe County commissioners. “Because that is what we feel. We feel that there is so much corruption in this board that we are never going to get listened to,” she said.

Those comments came after a four-hour meeting between Lemmon Valley residents, county commissioners, Reno City Council members, and staff from each municipality.

Residents were allowed to talk about their personal experience in Lemmon Valley, where flood waters have ravaged their homes and property since 2017.

“We can't start over. If we were 35 or 45 years old, we could,” said Sherlyn Barney, another Lemmon Valley resident. “But I am going to be 70 this year; my husband is going to be 80. We can't move to a new place,” she told the meeting.

“I will never be able to go home again. Mortgage-free home. Never going to be able to live there,” said Lemmon Valley resident Tracy Hall.

While county commissioners and City Council members heard the personal toll Swan Lake is taking on the residents' homes and streets, they also heard from county and city staff on the current status of the lake itself.

Staff acknowledges the Hesco Barriers are holding up. But water levels from what they call storm events can, at times, make it to the roadway.

There was concern about Lemmon Valley Elementary School near the water treatment plant. The flood waters are making their way to the playground.

“We did put a fence around where the water intruded on the property,” said Pete Etchart with the school district.

At the commission's last meeting, county staff said if nothing was done to get rid of the water, it would take seven years for Swan Lake to disappear. But that would require predicting years' worth of weather--virtually impossible.

In a report, Washoe County’s assistant county manager said the county wants to widen and raise Lemmon Drive.

Residents said the county should focus instead on the effluent dumping into the lake coming from two water treatment facilities in the area, as well as what they call unbridled development, which adds runoff to the lake. That had City Council member Jenny Brekhus calling for a moratorium.

“It will shift the focus from development-driven process,” said Brekhus. “Of this development project to that development project, what they are going to do over here To a community based approach to understand what the build out land use is going to be in this area,” Brekhus said during the meeting.

With plenty of direction coming from the elected officials, staff has plenty to look into and will report back to county commissioners and City Council members.

Earlier in the meeting Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve said she wanted another joint meeting just like the one April 29. But Schieve says she wants it in the early evening so they can hear from even more Lemmon Valley residents.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019