East Fork ready for spring thaw

Work on a levee along the East Fork of the Carson River south of the Riverview Bridge was completed in mid-February. Photo special to The R-C by JT Humphrey

Work on a levee along the East Fork of the Carson River south of the Riverview Bridge was completed in mid-February. Photo special to The R-C by JT Humphrey

For as wet as it was last year, the Carson River stayed pretty much in its banks through last spring’s melt-off.

Whether that happens this year is almost entirely dependent on how fast temperatures warm up over the next two months.

Rain is forecast today for Carson Valley, Kirkwood Ski Resort’s forecast is for heavy snow, with 3-5 inches possible. On the one hand, Monitor Pass reopened on Wednesday, but on the other the Alta Alpina Cycling Club postponed its Spring Rider Roundup to next weekend due to weather.

Hydro-nosticators in the Carson Watershed are invited to guess the date and cubic feet per second the river reaches peak flow at the gauge near Prison Hill in Carson City. The deadline to email a guess to watershedtech@cwsd.org is Monday.

Last year, Shane Fryer correctly guessed the May 26 date while Debbie Neddenriep called the average flow of 5,900 cubic feet per second.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is placing its bet in a new map giving odds of the river reaching particular height this spring.

As of Wednesday, the National Weather Prediction Service map indicated a 95 percent chance the river in Carson City will hit 4.5 feet and less than a 5 percent chance of hitting 6.5 feet or around 3,340 cubic feet per second. That’s well below the action stage of 8 feet.

The East Fork entering Carson Valley near Highway 395 likely won’t climb too much higher than the 11.1 feet expected this morning with a 95 percent chance of hitting 11.37 feet. River forecasters only give the river a 5 percent chance of rising above 12.5 feet.

Work on the levee along the East Fork at Carson Valley Golf Course is ready for high water.

While it didn’t fail last year, the East Fork reclaimed a good slice of the levee.

“This is not the first time it has happened,” Douglas County Flood Control Manager Courtney Walker said. “It’s said there are two types of levees, those that have failed and those that will fail. This falls into both those categories.”

Walker and Carson Valley Conservation District Grants Coordinator Rich Wilkinson discussed the work with county commissioners on April 4.

The levee failed in the record flood of 1997 that also isolated much of Carson Valley. Walker said it required work again after flooding in 2005.

While the East Fork didn’t rise to flood levels last year, it remained high for a long time.

“We were noticed through many resident phone calls to me and Rich,” Walker said. “The amount of erosion that occurred on this levee was pretty substantial.”

Wilkinson said the work consisted of dredging 2,300 cubic yards of sand and gravel out of the riverbed and then installing rip-rap along the bank to stabilize it.

Because the Conservation District is authorized to work on private property, it took the lead.

Douglas County contributed $80,808 to the project while the Carson Water Subconservancy District contributed $81,371. The Nevada Division of Water Resources spent $65,000 and the Carson Truckee Water Conservation District came up with $37,000. The project also required removing 4,100 tons of material from the river to improve its capacity.


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