New flooding is concern for Lemmon Valley residents

Published: Mar. 6, 2019 at 5:59 PM PST
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Water is being pulled from a ditch collecting storm run-off on Pompe Way in Lemmon Valley. While we were there, pumps went off every ten minutes or so.

If you look at the water levels from Swan Lake and their relationship to the top of the Hesco Barriers, there's no question why Lemmon Valley residents are nervous these days about what will happen to homes tere.

Some are looking down and wondering what water coming from underneath the roadway means.

“Soon,” says Denise Ross, a Lemmon Valley resident. “And I am not the expert, I am not an engineer. But soon. It is going to collapse. And when it does there is going to be a catastrophic event,” she says.

Ross says this is a new phenomenon. According to the county engineer it’s been going on since the flooding started at Swan Lake in 2017.

”The pressure head,” says Washoe County Engineer Dwayne Smith. “The amount of water that is in the lake, that is forcing that water through, is not a significant pressure head. So the velocities are pretty low. And it is clean water not carrying a bunch of fines, which would mean that it is not eroding,” he says

But that doesn't mean Smith isn't watching water levels. He shows a map that illustrates water at its peak in April 2017 in Swan Lake.

We are within inches of that peak, and it's only March. Runoff has not started, and rain is forecast for next week.

“Pretty confident in the seepage of the pumps moving the water. And very confident we have the right protections in place,” says Smith.

The county says it is watching the situation in Lemmon Valley on a daily basis. Smith says he is confident the Hesco Barriers will hold now and for years to come.

But Ross says once again, homes are being damaged by the flood waters; that's despite sandbagging efforts.

“I am afraid that the situation is getting dire. And we need the governor to come out here. Don't call the county. Don't get their opinion of what is going on. Come out and see for himself,” says Ross.

The county has extra pumps in Lemmon Valley, pulling storm water from neighborhoods and placing it back in Swan Lake. Smith says one of the stop priorities for the county is getting Lemmon Drive completely back open.