Gardnerville readies flood maps for FEMA challenge

Gardnerville officials have hired an engineering firm to study the Pine Nut Creek watershed as it affects the contested 2008 federal flood insurance study.

"One of the major strategic goals of the Gardnerville Town Board is to have an updated and accurate flood hazard map of the community," said Jim Park, town manager.

"This goal has become even more critical for the town board given the recent and ongoing issues with FEMA's (Federal Emergency Management Agency) 2008 Flood insurance study that is impacting nearly every parcel downstream of Buckeye Creek."

The study, commissioned by FEMA, has been appealed by Douglas County and is a hotly contentious issue, he said.

Gardnerville hired Manhard Consulting to avert a similar potential situation with a FEMA-initiated study of the Pine Nut Creek watershed.

The equivalent of 54 square miles of the Pine Nut watershed drains towards Gardnerville, Park said.

Gardnerville is also subject to potential flooding from the Cottonwood and Martin sloughs which originate off the East Fork of the Carson River.

Manhard Consulting is also working with Douglas County through the appeal process on the proposed Buckeye Creek mapping.

"Having accurate flood hazard maps is critical to the safety and well-being of people and property in Gardnerville as well as those areas adjacent to Gardnerville potentially affected by flood inundation from either source," said Paul Lindsay, town board chairman.

"I'm very optimistic that the proposed maps being developed will be a positive step forward in accurately depicting potential hazards. The staff at Manhard are highly skilled and have a great track record of work," Lindsay said.

Significant advances in technology and computer-aided water flow modeling provide the ability to develop highly dependable maps and simulations of potential 100-year storm impacts that weren't available more than a decade ago when the 1997 flood insurance rate maps for the Pine Nut range were modeled, Park said.

"The re-study and mapping project and drainage in general have been a board priority for many years. Gardnerville and Minden have been cooperatively working on the Martin Slough for the past 14 years, for instance," said Tom Cook, board vice chairman.

"When the Buckeye maps came out, the town board knew it had to act quickly on the Pine Nut and Cottonwood Slough or maybe have to face the same challenge," he said.

The challenges include concerns that the FEMA Buckeye Creek study was done by firms outside of the Northern Nevada area who may not be as familiar with local conditions.

"Throughout the Manhard restudy we've been working closely with Douglas County Engineer Mahmood Azad as this is a regional issue and coordination between the county and town are critical to project success," Park said.

"We're cooperatively moving towards having preliminary maps available online through the county and town Web sites in the next four to six weeks. We're also scheduling opportunities for public review and comment as well as a comprehensive presentation on the project and proposed maps in September," Park said.

The town board is to discuss the issue at its meeting Tuesday. The board meets at 4:30 p.m. at the town hall, 1407 Highway 395. Information, 782-7134.


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