Commissioners on Lemmon Valley Flooding 4/9/19

The Board of County Commissioners (Washoe) had several significant items on the agenda today.  All were present.  The audience contained about 40 members of the public.  The principal topic was agenda item 6 wherein the staff is coming to the commissioners for direction regarding an approach to the Lemmon Valley flooding.

The meeting had a lot of speakers for “general public comment” at the beginning of the meeting.  The vast majority were there to speak to the Lemmon Valley flood recovery approach.  This public comment portion took an hour.  Speakers made the following points.

  • The County is unwilling to cooperate with the city to come forward with a common solution to the flooding.  Commissioner Hartung denied this.
  • There needs to be a moratorium.  Speakers asserted that development caused the problem flooding and that more development would make things worse.
  • The school is unsafe with the effluent water encroaching on the playground.
  • Traffic is unsafe for motorists and especially pedestrians with the flood barriers.
  • The water needs to be cleaned up before any more development is permitted.
  • The new inflatable barriers have protected the house but not the septic tank at one home.
  • Older area plans specified no development in the area till the infrastructure is done.
  • Silver Lake is rising and will flow into Lemmon Valley worsening flooding.
  • We have had enough studies.  These seem to have been ignored, anyway.
  • Nevadans are “battle born”.  We need to be “battle ready”.
  • Some county pumps were operated on extension cords run across the Hesco barriers.  Some cords were blown into the water shorting out the pumps.
  • The floodwaters stink and it will get a lot worse with warming temperatures.
  • The speed bumps installed prevent prompt evacuation and access for emergency services.

No love lost …  Public speakers were unsparing of the commissioners and the county staff.

  • County engineer, Dwayne Smith, was repeatedly lambasted by name.
  • Assistant County Manager, Dave Solaro, was criticized by name.
  • “I know for a fact he’s (Ken Krater) paid off some of you guys (commissioners).”
  • “You commissioners need to accept responsibility for the development that caused the flooding.”

Staff assertions;

  • Dave Solaro made a presentation ( BCC 04-09-19 – POWER POINT for Lemmon Valley) showing the history of flooding in the area. The flooding of 2017 was an all-time record.  The flood of ’86 took 3 years to evaporate.  The flood of ’96 took 5 years to evaporate.  The flood of ’06 took 2 years to evaporate.  But the current flood level, will likely take 6-7 years to evaporate.  One recent storm raised the lake level by 1-1/2 feet. 
  • We have met our priority of keeping the flood waters out of peoples homes, but that is not enough for wells, septic tanks, animals, and vehicles.

County Commissioners made these points;

  • Commissioner Herman went through the list on the table (BCC 04-09-19 – Lemmon Valley Matrix ) and discussed the problems with each approach emphasizing how many years they would take.
  • Around 230 homes would need to be bought out if we don’t solve the flooding at a cost of $69M. (Herman)
  • Raising homes would cost $16M but wouldn’t address flooded roads or livestock problems.
  • We should contain the lake to protect homes, wells, and septic systems.  Can we contain the lake with berms?  Can we clean it up to be used for recreation? (Berkbigler)
  • The water is not evaporating as we thought it would.  Future storms will be even worse.  (Berkbigler)
  • “How much have we spent on the flooding in Lemmon Valley, and on what?”  (Jung)
  • We need a detailed report.  We need to move beyond just protecting property.  We need to lower the water level.  (Jung)
  • We need a global solution; not just one to protect homes.  (Hartung)
  • We can get help from Congressman Amodei once we decide on an approach.  (Hartung)
  • Consider the long-term maintenance costs of any proposed solution.  (Lucey)
  • Take solutions to the affected residents and then to the county as a whole to get agreement.  (Jung)
  • We need both a short term and a long term plan.  (Berkbigler)
  • We could build a reservoir on the east side of the valley and pump some of the flood water there.  (Herman)
  • Do we need a new storm-water utility in the North Valleys?  (Hartung)
  • I want to see a timeline for the different options.  (Jung)

Public comment specific to the agenda item regarding Lemmon Valley flood mitigation.

  • We presently have two sewer plants emptying into the lake.
  • The county’s buyout offers have not been representative of home values.
  • More development means more effluent water.
  • It’s not our fault we bought there.  It’s the County that allowed it to flood.
  • More development means rising water levels.
  • The flooding is caused by the high-density development and warehouses.
  • More calls for a moratorium on new development.
  • Can we get a perimeter road?  Lemmon Drive had 12″ of water this morning.

The agenda item closed with Dave Solaro agreeing to come back with a proposal based on the commissioners preferences.

There was media coverage of the meeting.

KOLO-8          NEWS-4          KTVN-2

2 thoughts on “Commissioners on Lemmon Valley Flooding 4/9/19



  2. I would like the city and county to use social media and other avenues to inform the general public of upcoming meetings, as the current flooding and proposed developments effect all residents of the North Valleys, not just the few that get the notice by mail.


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