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Johnson Lane residents shelf flood structure

by Christy Chalmers

Plans for a structure to direct flash floods away from the northern Johnson Lane area may be shelved amid findings that the Buckbrush wash isn’t as dangerous as previously thought.

Johnson Lane residents may also form a new coalition to study a separate wash that might be more threatening than Buckbrush.

The decisions were made Thursday night by members of the Buckbrush Wash Flood Coalition, a group of residents that has been studying ways to control runoff from the Buckbrush wash, which empties from the Pine Nut Mountains into the area north of Stephanie Way.

The group learned the results of a study by Dr. Kyle House of the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology. House’s study concluded that water flowing down Buckbrush wash is likely to stay in the channel until it reaches flatter land in the area of Fuller Avenue, where it can spread out. Previously, researchers thought the channel was prone to shifting, meaning water from the wash could have left the channel and inundated nearby homes.

With that information, the coalition will probably focus on educating the public about flash flooding dangers and mothball a previous suggestion to try building a structure that would divert flash floods away from the Johnson Lane area.

“There really has not been a large expression of community desire to build the structure,” said John Cobourn, an area resident and hydrologist who acts as a technical advisor to the group. “It’s still a possibility if conditions change, but it hasn’t caught fire as a burning issue.”

Instead, coalition members are more inclined to educate their neighbors about the importance of cleaning culverts, maintaining drainage ditches and staying out of the washes during thunderstorms.

“There is a consensus that since we’ve done the scientific ground work (on the Buckbrush danger) they’re breathing a little easier,” said Cobourn. ” As long as people don’t build houses in the really high hazard areas, it’s probably not life threatening.”

House’s study also found that the Johnson Lane wash, a separate, bigger system south of Buckbrush, could be more dangerous. The conclusion is based on preliminary observations of the channel, which contains large rocks that were likely deposited by deep, swift water.

Cobourn said Buckbrush coalition members are willing to help form a sister coalition that would study the Johnson Lane wash. The severity of floods likely to come out of the Johnson Lane wash still needs to be studied in more detail, but Cobourn said potential Johnson Lane coalition members are welcome.

To register, call the cooperative extension office at 782-9960.