Gardnerville Ranchers Still Dealing With Flood Aftermath
The Carson Valley saw massive amounts of water in pastures and fields in February, when the Carson River overflowed its banks. Farmers and ranchers opened their irrigation canals to take pressure off the river.
Northern Nevadans have had their fair share of flooding since the new year, and the problems associated with the floods persist in many of those areas. The Carson Valley saw massive amounts of water in pastures and fields in February, when the Carson River overflowed its banks. Farmers and ranchers opened their irrigation canals to take pressure off the river.
"It's one of those the things that agriculture provides for this area is a place for the water to go," David Hussman, Gardnerville Rancher said. "The problem is, once the water goes away, there's damage."
Ranchers say about 70% of the irrigation ditches are plugged with debris because of the flooding, but erosion is an even bigger issue in some areas. The Carson River did not overflow its banks very much on Hussman's property. Swift-moving water took large chunks of the banks with it, leaving small cliffs behind. Hussman says the river is about twice as wide as it was before the February flood, on his property.
"We've lost a portion of a field, we've lost the irrigation ditch and the structures that divert the water," Hussman said.
The irrigation ditch and a dirt road used to run parallel to the river, but the erosion cut about a half-acre out of Hussman's field, destroying the road and ditch. He expects to lose at least $8,000 in crop production because of the damage.
"We have no way to irrigate that land now," Hussman said. "There's about 14 acres that's gonna stay dry all summer, as it looks now."
Repairing the land and infrastructure is expected to cost $350,000 to $500,000. Damage along the Carson River could exceed $3 million.
"As the water goes down, you're going to see more and more undercut banks that could collapse or endanger infrastructure like bridges and roads and things like that," Mike Hayes, Carson Valley Conservation District Coordinator said.
The cost of repairs could get even higher, since the conditions haven't allowed an accurate survey of damages.
"We haven't done a real thorough damage assessment because of snow cover and mud and the river height," Hayes said.
It could be months before that assessment happens because of water levels. The river flows are increasing now that the spring runoff has started. Hayes says the water was flowing at 1,000 cubic feet per second on Friday. By Monday, it reached 1,640 cfs. Residents expect at least one or two more floods by summer time.
"We could see just as much water as we ever did in January or February depending on how hot it gets and how fast the river comes up," Hussman said.
Repairs will probably have to wait until September or October, once river flows drop below 500 cfs. It also depends on the length of time it takes to get the numerous permits required to do the job.
"Lots and lots of paperwork that takes money away from us actually being able to do the physical work," Hayes said. "We have to spend it in the office generating paperwork,"
If FEMA comes through, it could pay 75% of the repair costs.