Flood coalition seeks to construct diversion on Stephanie | RecordCourier.com

Flood coalition seeks to construct diversion on Stephanie

Staff reports

A neighborhood action coalition is seeking volunteers to protect lives and property from flash floods in the Buckbrush Wash drainage basin in northern Douglas County.

“We invite Stephanie Way neighbors to come out and support our efforts and be a part of the solution,” says University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Educator Steve Lewis, who’s spearheading the citizen group.

n What: Meeting of the Buckbrush Flood Safety Coalition.

n When: Thursday, April 17, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

n Where: Johnson Lane Fire Station.

n Contact: Steve Lewis, Cooperative Extension, 782-9960.

Five flash floods hit the fast-growing Stephanie Way neighborhood between 1990 and 1995, all caused by thunderstorms drenching the upper watershed on a summer afternoon, Lewis says. On these occasions, with little or no warning, a wall of muddy water rushes down the dry wash. In a very large storm, a flood wave could cut through fences, yards, houses and streets.

“The National Weather Service says flash flooding is the greatest natural threat to lives and property in Nevada,” reports Cooperative Extension water specialist John Cobourn. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has urged growing communities to plan developments with safeguards against floods.

“We like the rural life in Douglas County,” says coalition member and surveyor Al Walker, “but we don’t want the hazards that come with it. We particularly don’t want flooding, which tends to lower property values.”

After extensive research, the coalition has proposed a diversion structure be built to re-route flood water away from the 600-home Stephanie Way alluvial fan area. The flood waters would be conveyed to the east side of Hot Springs Mountain and northwest into an uninhabited basin owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

“A diversion structure, while costly, is still less expensive and less damaging to the environment than a dam, which could also overflow into the community,” says Lewis.

The coalition is a pilot concept that, if successful, could address flood hazards along Johnson Lane, at Topaz Ranch Estates and in Ruhenstroth.

The program is an offshoot of the Douglas County Citizens Task Force for Flood Control. For this effort, Lewis and Cobourn won a 1995 Search for Excellence award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.