Water To Be Diverted Into Fallon Desert - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Water To Be Diverted Into Fallon Desert

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As winter winds down, Fallon residents are looking at what will come this spring.  After one of the wettest winters on record, Lake Lahontan is nearly full, but the forecast shows enough snowmelt to fill the lake two more times.

"We all know that upstream, we're forecast to have that large volume of water coming down, so we have to be well out ahead of that," Rusty Jardine, General Manger of the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District said.

The TCID is building a spillway along the V Line Canal, west of Fallon.  Water is already being released from the Lahontan Dam, and nearly half of it will go through the spillway once it is complete.  The water will flow into the desert, south and west side of Fallon.  It will flow into the Carson Lake and pasture, eventually heading to the Carson Sink.

"We're going to see water, virtually covering this side of the valley," Jardine said.

The plan is being implemented to reduce the risk of flooding for Fallon residents, along the Carson River. The project is estimated to cost $600,000.

"At any cost, it's something that's so important in preserving the integrity, the safety, and I think the peace of mind associated with the residents of the Fallon area," Jardine said.

Lake Lahontan is only a few feet from the top of the dam, and it has risen more than one foot in the last week.  About 35,000 acre-feet have already been drained, which is close to the amount of space available.  Jardine says the TCID is releasing more water than is flowing in, for now, but it's a balancing act to keep drain and fill the lake at the same time.

"Our effort will be, in a perfect world, to draw this water out, allow for Lahontan to come up, and manage that so at the end of the day, we're right there," Jardine said.

Water started being diverted into the irrigation canals on February 11. That does not normally happen until mid to late March.  During a wet year like this, the dam is doing more than holding water for irrigation.

"It was not created for flood control, but essentially, that's what we're using it for, presently," Jardine said.

Jardine says the dam is in great shape, so there is not any fear of structural failure. The plan is to keep the water level below the top, keeping it from spilling over the flash boards at the top of the dam.

"Once the water gets so high that it starts to go over that, that's when we can no longer exercise any control over that," Jardine said.

The new spillway is expected to open by March 10, releasing up to 1,000 cubic feet per second.  Jardine says it is unknown how long it will take for the water to travel to its final destination but he is certain it will ease flood concerns for Fallon residents.

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