Residents fill up flood session |

Residents fill up flood session

by Anne Knowles

A flash flood watch for the Pine Nut Mountains on Wednesday threatened to illustrate the need for a plan to handle Johnson Lane flooding.

But the clouds parted before more than 100 residents gathered at Minden’s CVIC Hall to hear a presentation on the Johnson Lane Area Drainage Master Plan.

“This is a big deal. This is the first step,” said County Engineer Erik Nilssen. “The master plan is going to look at how we help the most amount of people for the least amount of money.”

Notices of the meeting were sent to 2,700 property owners in the area, said Courtney Walker, stormwater program manager, many affected by consecutive years of severe flash flooding in 2014 and 2015.

In 2014, 1.23 inches of rain fell in two hours, resulting in $1 million in damage to public infrastructure, such as roads and utilities, and another $1 million in damage to houses and private property. In 2015, 1.5 inches in a 20-minute torrent caused another $2.2 million in damages for public infrastructure while the total cost to public property is unknown because estimates were never made, said Nilssen.

The master plan is being developed by J. E. Fuller Hydrology & Geomorphology, Inc., a Tempe, Ariz., consultant. A $285,000 Cooperative Technical Partner grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was secured through the Carson Water Subconservancy District and Douglas County added a $95,000 match.

The goal, said Mike Kellogg, the J.E. Fuller project manager for the plan, is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the existing drainage conditions and develop mitigation solutions.

The plan should produce various solutions that Douglas County commissioners will have to consider whether to undertake.

“It will give the commission a list of projects. If it’s $3 million we can do that. If it’s $40 million maybe not,” said Nilssen.

Douglas County Manager Larry Werner said after the meeting that he is going to the commission on Sept. 7 for approval of a plan to implement storm water fees, which the county does not currently charge, amounting to about $60 annually per household.

The problems on Johnson Lane stem mostly from the way the area was developed.

It is a so-called wildcat subdivision in which parcels were developed in a way that developers could put in houses with as few storm water improvements as possible.

State law allowed such serial parceling until sometime in the mid-1980s, Werner estimated, when it was changed and now more stringent requirements are in county code. The other problem is fine-grained sand, which is abundant.

“Sediment is as big a problem if not more than flooding,” said Kellogg during his presentation. “There is an endless supply of sediment that keeps coming and coming.” Area maps were posted at the meeting and attendees were asked to find their parcels and show staff the ways in which their property flooded.

There is also an online link — index.html?appid=e50d 22127c034cf0b0fd8b 9597910cc5 — where residents can upload photos and add information on their experiences.

A second public meeting to present the master plan results is expected in early 2018 with final presentations to the CWSD board and to commissioners planned later.