Following a recent storm where Northern Nevada got hit with torrential downpours, the Sparks City Council approved a $14,118 contract with Q&D Construction to build the final phase of the North Truckee Drain Realignment Project. This third part of the Truckee River Flood Project will help reroute storm water further downstream of the Truckee River to minimize flooding in Sparks’ industrial area. Carrying water as far north as Spanish Springs further downstream of the Truckee River east of Vista Boulevard, the Truckee River Flood Project and drain realignment includes installing over 6,500 feet of piping.
The project is expected to begin January 2017 and is funded through the $15.23 “river flood fee” as part of residents’ quarterly sewer bill.
Last month The Nature Conservancy and partners also launched the Truckee River restoration project on a 2/3-mile stretch of the Truckee River between Tracy Reach and 102 Ranch. Q&D began moving 300,000 tons of dirt and rocks to try to reconnect the river with its natural floodplain.
“We designed the project with the intent of creating additional habitat,” says the Conservancy’s Truckee River Restoration Project Manager Chris Sega. “In order to do that we are lowering floodplain surfaces and connecting it to the main river.”
This project is an attempt to reverse the channelization done by US Army Corps of Engineers back in the 1960’s, which was well-intentioned but caused the river to incise and drop its water level, killing off cottonwoods and the ecological system surrounding the river. By reversing the channelization, the Project should help to restore riparian plants.
However, planners rely on design concepts, history, and software programs to build something that will hopefully work without seeing it in action…until it floods.
“The last four years we’ve been in a drought so we haven’t really seen how these projects function,” says Sega. “Ultimately, we have to see the river flood to determine if the design works as intended.”
Last weekend the Truckee River’s water content rose to a level that hasn’t been experienced since the 2005-06 season, so planners could finally start seeing results. Sega says that the storm caused roughly 4,500 cubic feet per second of water flow in the Truckee River.
On Dec. 11 Sega and his team took a catamaran out and floated the reach to monitor how everything was functioning. “We got some good sediment to see how vegetation and growth can occur,” says Sega.
“The purpose of these projects is to create a functional floodplain where natural processes can happen,” Sega adds. “When cities do flood control they create levies and flows; they build systems so that it doesn’t damage anything. We do this to stop flood impact; when that water exits, it needs somewhere to go. So we create that floodplain.
The main benefit to flood control is having a place for the water to go so that it doesn’t keep going downstream at a rapid pace and cause further impact,” he says.
At times of heavy rains, sandbags are available at Highland Ranch Parkway, a mile west of the Pyramid Highway in Sparks.