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DRI study shows runoff from Peavine and other factors led to 2017 flooding

Reno KOLO-TV logo Reno KOLO-TV 1/15/2022 Terri Russell
Peavine Mountain as seen from the Desert Research Institute © Provided by Reno KOLO-TV Peavine Mountain as seen from the Desert Research Institute

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Pictures of flooding in Lemmon Valley are all too familiar. Residents pointed out a flooded field with geese just last week.

But the problem took center stage in February 20017 when an atmospheric river traveled across the area. Swan Lake rose more than ten feet when compared to the lake’s level two years prior. Homes were destroyed, and a court battle ensued.

Residents claimed run off from development in the area as well as effluent from water treatment plants were the cause. And they were.

But what no one knew for sure; did run off from Peavine Mountain play a role?

“A majority of the runoff in the Lemmon Valley basin comes from Peavine,” says Sean McKenna, Desert Research Institute’s Hydrologic Sciences Division Director.

McKenna says a Desert Research Institute Study is the first to take an in depth look at that run off as well as the other components which contributed to the tragic flooding in Lemmon Valley in 2017.

Change in storm patterns, development and the impervious structures which come along with it, effluent, saturated soil, were also contributing factors and will continue to be says they study.

“We went back around 1900 and found another period, another year 1914 where the lake level was on a par with 20017,” says McKenna. “But what’s happened since then is changes to the basin with the development and then also weather patterns are changing,” he says.

“We have an attitude at the county which does not respect the people of Lemmon Valley at all,” says Jeanne Herman, the Washoe County Commissioner who represents Lemmon Valley. “They have been ignored and neglected,” she says.

Herman says she hasn’t officially received a copy of the DRI study, even though it affects her constituents.

The study gives very few if any recommendations to county planners, developers or public works except to better monitor tributaries which come off Peavine.

“Meantime we haven’t done one thing,” says Herman.

The DRI study validates what Lemmon Valley residents already knew about where they live.

Commissioner Herman though says she believes this report will simply fall on deaf ears and will be of no consequence to many on the commission and developers in the area.

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