Washoe County approves extra funding for Lemmon Valley

By  | 

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Update from Washoe County:
Washoe County Commissioners have approved an additional $300K for a HESCO barrier around Swan Lake.

Dwayne Smith, Director of Engineering, provided a North Valleys Flood Incident Update to the Board of County Commissioners regarding the 2017 North Valleys Flood Incident, which included upcoming winter preparations, direction on the FEMA grant and funding to provide the additional HESCO barrier. To date, Washoe County has spent more than $4 million on flood response efforts in the North Valleys.

“The county has done a tremendous amount of work in the North Valleys and have provided resources needed. We realize the HESCO barriers are an inconvenience, but this is not harmful, it has helped attempt to restore a life they once had, based on the current challenges. These are natural challenges and nothing we can do can change the outcome Swan Lake is experiencing,” says Washoe County Commission Chair Bob Lucey. “Washoe County will continue to do the work we’ve been doing to prevent further challenges with berms and barriers. We should move forward with the home purchase program with FEMA, which moves individuals into new areas, because this flooding will inevitably happen again, we will continually be challenged with terminal basins in Washoe County.”

Washoe County maintains four miles of HESCO flood barriers and water pumps and regularly maintains ditches in the area. Washoe County says it's spending approximately $70,000 per month maintaining the temporary flood protection measures. In addition, county staff have provided resources and continue to inform residents how to best prepare for the upcoming 2017/18 winter and spring precipitation seasons.

To address the longer-term flood impacts, staff has been in discussions with affected residents to gauge interest in participating in the FEMA hazard mitigation grant program (HMGP). The FEMA grant could be used to acquire homes that are located within the area impacted by the 2017 Presidentially-declared February flood. The grant would allow for the acquisition and demolition or relocation of residential structures to a site outside of the FEMA flood plain and the underlying property would then be converted to a deed-restricted open space. Staff proposed to continue to work with interested residents in this voluntary program to help them complete the application before FEMA’s deadline of February of 2018. Purchase of any home would be voluntary, would require the homeowner to agree to the terms of the program, and is at the approval of FEMA.

Staff presented the commission with a proposal to purchase an additional HESCO barrier to maintain flood protections currently in place. Washoe County says it is working with regional partners to continually monitor the conditions in the North Valleys area. Recent observations show an increase of lake levels over the past month due to rainfall, reduced evaporation rates approaching the fall and winter season, and ground in the region being saturated causing precipitation to run off the ground instead of absorbing into it.

In response, Washoe County staff has begun construction work on a new berm at the end of Pompe Way to continue protection efforts. The berm construction will require the removal of a small portion of HESCO barrier on Pompe Way to provide access to the area for this construction. Staff requested up to $300,000 of contingency funds to purchase the additional barrier to connect the new berm and existing HESCO barrier. This new portion of protection will allow those residents on Pompe Way without access to their homes, to potentially move back in, and will assure protections to the remainder of the neighborhood to the west.

The County Commission unanimously approved to move forward with all the proposed actions, including to continue with the winter preparations currently in place, continue the process to help residents apply for the FEMA grant program for possible purchase of specific residences, and the contingency funds to purchase the additional HESCO barrier to complete the berm construction.

Original story: Washoe County officials will be requesting up to $300,000 at the County Board of Commissioners Meeting Tuesday. The funds will go toward an additional HESCO barrier.

Earlier this month Washoe County staff began construction on a new berm at the end of Pompe Way to the west toward Casey Court due to the rise in lake levels.

The new construction plan is based on how the hydrographic basin reacts to additional water. The new berm construction will require the removal of a small portion of HESCO barrier on Pompe Way to provide access to the area for construction. An additional barrier will be needed to complete construction work, and that is what the Washoe County staff will be asking money for. Washoe County officials say the new portion of protection will allow residents on Pompe way to have access back to their homes.

Many residents say they do not understand why county officials waited last minute to put the additional barriers. County officials say it was an expensive project and did not want to act until the threat became clear.