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Truckee River Symposium 2011, Sept. 27-29, 2011

Save the Date! September 27-29, 2011 at DRI.The purpose of this symposium is to communicate, investigate and evaluate science along the river.

Discussions will provide an understanding of Truckee River's important role in supporting northern Nevada and eastern California, while serving as a valuable resource to others who utilize the river. One element of this program is to provide all groups who work within the watershed a comprehensive understanding of what their colleagues are doing, and to bring critical Truckee River issues to the table for discussion. Drought, water quality, water resources, technical considerations and ecological elements will be discussed, with a mix of research, environmental, management and recreational perspectives included.

Washoe officials OK money to raise Hidden Valley homes above flood level

By Jeff DeLong • Reno Gazzette-Journal
jdelong@rgj.com • Posted January 22, 2010

The Flood Project Coordinating Committee voted to accelerate plans to raise the home foundations, from 2 to 8 feet, in Hidden Valley and the nearby Eastside subdivision as soon as this summer.

It's part of a larger, eight-year effort that could eventually spend $10 million to elevate 115 homes that are threatened frequently by flooding of Steamboat Creek. Many sustained damage from the floods of 1997 and 2005.

"This has been a long time coming," said Naomi Duerr, director of the Truckee River Flood Project. "We not only get flood protection early, but we're looking at the most efficient way to get this done."

Earlier plans called for protecting Hidden Valley by building a $58 million levee.

Homes that cannot be raised could be purchased or moved.

The home elevations are among projects for which the committee is using local funding, separate from the much larger $1.5 billion Truckee River Flood Project that is under federal review and is not expected to be authorized until 2012

Other fast-track projects include construction of a levee to protect the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, completed last year, and restoring the Mustang Ranch, now under way.

Buzz Harris of the Associated General Contractors praised a project he said will provide needed construction jobs.

"We see this as an opportunity to put some of these people who have been out of work for quite a time back to work," Harris said.

Some Rosewood Lakes homeowners, also plagued by regular flooding, also want homes elevated, Duerr said.

Officials focus on flood-control sites

By Jeff DeLong, Reno Gazette-Journal, February 14, 2009

Reno's most historic bridge and the former site of Northern Nevada's most infamous brothel were the focus of actions Friday by officials trying to cope with regular flooding of the Truckee River.

A coalition of local officials pushing for completion of the long-awaited Truckee River flood project took action on the future of both landmarks.

The Flood Project Coordinating Committee agreed to spend $2 million for design and environmental permitting for the tear-down and replacement of the Virginia Street Bridge -- a project ultimately expected to cost about $20 million.

The committee, composed of officials from Reno, Sparks, Washoe County and the University of Nevada, Reno, also approved a $7.2 million river restoration project at the former site of the Mustang Ranch brothel east of Sparks.

Both projects have the potential to qualify for some funding from the federal economic stimulus package, officials said. They have been given status as accelerated efforts up front of the overall flood project, expected to cost between $1.2 billion and $1.6 billion.

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Washoe water authority might raise rates soon, citing customer drop

By Jeff DeLong • jdelong@rgj.com • January 22, 2009

Reacting to the slumping economy and the prospect of a continuing drought, directors of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority might decide to increase water rates for the first time in four years. The board voted Wednesday to initiate discussions that could have a rate increase in place by June.

No numbers have been prepared, but officials said the increase likely would be a low single-digit percentage, possibly increasing monthly water bills by $1 to $2. The board of elected officials and appointed members can raise rates on its own authority.

Officials said the money is needed because of increased operating and maintenance costs of $5.7 million during the past four years.

Another major factor is the sick economy. The water authority has experienced "significant reductions" in investment income because of economic and market conditions and decreasing water sales as the number of vacant homes and businesses expands across the region, chief financial officer Jeff Tissier said.

With growth stagnant in the Truckee Meadows, the utility has no increase in new water connections and resulting revenue.

"The last two years, we haven't seen any," he said. "There pretty much haven't been any connections. We have no idea what customer growth is going to be like, if (any) at all." With a possible third straight dry year looming, Truckee River flow is expected to drop and further diminish income from the utility's hydroelectric plants, Tissier said.

Agencies play a waiting game

By Christy Lattin, LVN Community News Editor
Lahontan Valley News 1/6/09

Water flows through the Truckee Canal last week at 350 cubic feet per second. Maximum flow for the canal is 750 cfs which will be reached only after structural modifications are completed.

For the various government agencies involved with the Fernley flood of 2008, it’s become a waiting game — waiting for money, waiting for plans, waiting for each other and waiting for water.
Both the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District and the city of Fernley are waiting for sizable reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency more than one year after the cold flood waters soaked 590 homes on Fernley’s east side on Jan. 5.

The city of Fernley faced approximately $1 million in direct costs associated with the flood, said Bonnie Duke, city treasurer. The biggest portion of the cost was for repairing streets and sidewalks, pumping water from homes and distributing supplies in the days following the flood.
FEMA reimbursed the city about $500,000 so far, but the city would like to receive another $200,000.

Duke said she hopes to receive the money within the next three months. “Bottom line, half a million dollars came out of the city’s coffers,” Duke said, adding the money was taken from a grant-matching fund the city established for aiding community projects. “We’re lucky we had that other fund sitting there.”

TCID completed the emergency repair and the permanent earthen repair in January and submitted the necessary paperwork for the reimbursement, but they too are awaiting several hundred thousand dollars to cover 75 percent of the costs they incurred related to the flood.

Kate Rutan, executive secretary for TCID, said FEMA separated the repairs into five separate projects. The first two projects, the emergency and permanent earthen repairs, are completed and paperwork has been submitted for reimbursement. The remaining three projects include cleaning drains and pipe systems in the affected areas of Fernley. TCID can seek reimbursement once the projects are complete.

TCID is also waiting on a report from the Bureau of Reclamation before it can proceed on its plan to install a concrete wall in the north face of the Truckee Canal along the 11-mile stretch of the Fernley Reach. The district submitted a one-page proposal for the barrier project to BOR in October and received a five-page response.

Kenneth Parr, BOR Carson City Area Manager, said the Denver BOR office is working on alternative solutions to rehabilitate the canal. He hopes the report will be complete later this month.
When BOR’s alternatives report is complete, both BOR and TCID will work together to choose the best solution. Parr said TCID will be responsible for developing engineered plans for the barrier.
“If (TCID) has the staff to do it, they should do it,” Parr said. “If they don’t have the time or staff to do those plans, they can request the Bureau to do it and reimburse us for that, or go and seek a contractor.”

Dave Overvold, project manager at TCID, said he believes the barrier can be installed during the irrigation season once approved, and he gave a hopeful time frame of completing the project by the end of 2010.

In the meantime, area farmers will continue to wait for water. Lahontan Valley farmers in the Carson division received 80 percent of their water allocation last year while farmers in the Truckee division received 90 percent of their water allocation. The water forecast, though, is not promising.
The water supply conditions released by TCID on Monday states the forecast for the Carson River spring runoff is only 51 percent of average. Overvold said Lake Tahoe is almost empty, which means minimal diversions from the Truckee River. Historically, 25 percent of the water to Lahontan Reservoir comes from the Truckee River, Overvold said.

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Tahoe, Truckee conservation efforts feel budget pinch

Greyson Howard / Sierra Sun

Lake Tahoe and Truckee area conservation groups are being squeezed enough to stop a number of projects as California goes through large-scale budget cuts. The state has halted thousands of projects across the state supported by General Obligation bond measures such as Proposition 50 and Proposition 84 — the source of Sierra Nevada Conservancy funding, wrote Jim Branham, executive officer of the conservancy in an e-mail.

The $93,500 grant awarded to the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation for a pocket park on the corner of Bridge and Jibboom streets was frozen by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. Likewise five projects slated for the coming year at the Truckee River Watershed Council have been put on hold.

Kaitlin Backlund, executive director of the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, wrote in an e-mail the group would schedule a steering committee meeting in January to plan the next steps for the park. “They’re still processing agreements so I’m hopeful that when the budget is resolved the grants will be processed,” said Alex Terrazas, assistant to the town manager.

Town council has set aside $50,000 in funds for the park, Terrazas said, but the money is meant to match grants, so the town will likely wait to see what happens at the state level.

Lisa Wallace, executive director of the watershed council, said while the group doesn’t have to worry about letting people go like the South Yuba Citizen’s League on the west slope, five projects have been put on hold.

“As we understand it our projects haven’t been canceled, they’ve just been suspended for a period of time, we just don’t know how long,” Wallace said.

The effected projects include watershed and stream restoration work in Perazzo Meadows, Coldstream Canyon and Merrill-Davies Creek, along with a residential erosion control retrofit program and a monitoring project for the Truckee river, Wallace said. “The suspension the way it is described does stay in place it is very serious for us,” Wallace said. “We would not go away, but five major projects is a big impact.”

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Budget woes freeze Tahoe projects

By Adam Jensen / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Numerous South Shore projects were put on indefinite hold last week following a suspension of critical payments by California officials due to the state budget crisis.

On Dec. 17, the three-member Pooled Money Investment Board voted 3 - 0 to suspend approximately $4 billion in state funds for an estimated 2,000 infrastructure projects throughout California.

“The PMIB took this action to preserve necessary cash resources to pay the day-to-day operational needs of the state for the balance of the fiscal year pending further PMIB action in January,” according to a letter to state agencies from Department of Finance Director Michael Genest. “If loan reimbursement continues at the current pace, the state’s portion of the Pooled Money Invested Account is projected to run out of liquid cash before the end of the current fiscal year.”

The 56-acre project, Sawmill Bike Path, Upper Truckee River Restoration Project, Bijou Area Erosion Control Project, Sierra Tract Erosion Control Project, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s best management practices program and numerous erosion-control projects along state highways are among the Lake Tahoe projects that depend on bond funding suspended by the board’s decision, according to Lake Tahoe Basin officials.

Future funds will only be approved once the state budget crisis is resolved, according to the letter.

The sudden suspension caused anxiety at basin agencies.

About 90 percent of the approximately $20 million the California Tahoe Conservancy has invested annually in the basin during recent years comes from bond funding that’s now suspended, said Conservancy Deputy Director Ray Lacey.
Lacey remains hopeful the funding will return, but said unknowns about the national and global economy persist, and it is “difficult if not impossible” to sell bonds at this time.

“It’s a little frustrating right now for us. We were given a halt order without any follow-up,” said Cindy Wise, a grant coordinator for the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, adding details from the state about how affected agencies should proceed is lacking.

“I’m sure we’ll get that direction, but we haven’t gotten that right now,” she said.
The suspension affected nine projects administered by the water board, including seven projects in the Lake Tahoe and Truckee River watersheds totaling $20 million, Wise said.

Groups like the Tahoe Resource Conservation District and the Sierra Nevada Alliance — a South Lake Tahoe-based network of conservation groups throughout the Sierra Nevada range — implement the projects, Wise said.

Alliance Executive Director Joan Clayburgh said she was forced to lay off several employees because of the suspension of payments.

“It basically just dissolved our watershed program,” Clayburgh said.

The program included various programs to protect water quality, including volunteer water-quality monitoring days and native landscaping programs at Lake Tahoe.
While Clayburgh hoped the program could eventually be rebuilt, she said she was “devastated” by the board’s decision.

Clayburgh said the suspension of payments comes at a particularly bad time, since stimulating the economy through the development of green jobs has been discussed by government officials.

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Washoe buys two tracts of land for trailheads

December 17, 2008

Washoe County commissioners on Tuesday approved buying 22.2 acres along the Truckee River for trails and open space near Mogul and 1.28 acres in New Washoe City for a trailhead for Washoe Canyon.

The county paid $400,000 for the larger tract on the south side of the Truckee River to Kathleen Carcione. The hilly land will be used for access to U.S. Forest Service lands and connects with the Canepa Ranch property to the west where the county plans to build a trail head. The land was purchased with county and state voter-approved bond sales.

The county paid $154,000 for the small tract to Jay and Rita Stone for a trailhead to link Washoe Canyon to the Galena Canyon. State voter-approved bond proceeds were used for the purchase.

Contract awarded for first Truckee River flood control

December 17, 2008

A contract for $2,715,101 has been approved for Sparks firm to build the first flood wall and levee for the Truckee River flood control project.

The wall and levee would be on Reno-Sparks Indian Colony land leased by Wal-Mart along the river between U.S. 395 and the Glendale bridge, north of the High Sierra Resort. Wal-Mart and the county have agreed to split the costs up to

$3.4 million, with the retailer paying any further costs. Campbell Construction Co. was the low bidder among 13 companies.

Sierra hikers dispute federal report about declining use of U.S. forests

By Jeff DeLong • jdelong@rgj.com • December 15, 2008

It's what the Incline Village woman loves to do, and she regularly encounters many others -- young and old alike -- who share her outdoor passion. That's why Devine was surprised to learn about a new government report suggesting fewer people are using national forest land these days.

"I talk to people who are hiking and using the trails all the time," said Devine, 46. "That does surprise me." The visitor use national summary report, recently released by the U.S. Forest Service, shows that visits to the country's national forests declined from 204.8 million in 2004 to 178.6 million in 2007, a drop of about 13 percent and a continuation of a trend first noticed several years ago.

In the Forest Service's Region 4, which includes Nevada, Utah and southern Idaho, the report showed a 9 percent decline. Visitors to Nevada's Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which at 6.3 million acres is the largest national forest in the lower 48 states, also apparently dropped, said Forest Supervisor Ed Monnig.

In 2004, an estimated 2.9 million people visited the forest but the number dropped to 1.9 million in 2007, a decrease of nearly 35 percent.

The government's methods of gauging visitation have varied since efforts commenced in 2000 and the task is a difficult one, Monnig said. "We don't have turnstiles; we don't take tickets," Monnig said. "It's a challenge to determine how many people really use the national forest."

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