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Unusual Team Provides Nevada Flood Protection

January 14, 2008

Reno, NV – The year began with hundreds of homes being flooded by a ruptured canal in Fernley. Now, just 30 miles away, an unusual coalition is working to prevent similar disasters along the Truckee River.

The Reno Sparks Indian Colony, Wal-Mart and Washoe County have joined forces to help pay for a flood wall. Jessica Sferrazza, who chairs the Truckee River Flood Project Coordinating Committee, says the unique coalition is shaving years off the process and saving taxpayer dollars.

"Splitting the funding is truly a benefit for the entire community because we were going to have to do this levee project anyway. To have Wal-Mart come in and the colony come in and help contribute is really a win-win for everybody."

The Reno Sparks Indian Colony stepped up to guarantee the project could be done right away without having to wait for federal funding down the line, and without having to build smaller levies in the meantime.

Flood protection for this portion of Northern Nevada was not scheduled to start for another five years, but the partnership allowed the project to qualify for special funding. Reno Sparks Indian Colony chairman Arlan Melendez says if the federal funding does not come through, his tribe will guarantee the county's nearly $2 million contribution.

"To protect flooding from Reno all the way down to the Pyramid Lake Reservation, where the Truckee River actually terminates, that's a large project. We're the first ones to basically do it right."

Melendez says the extra effort his tribe put forth makes sense, in light of the hundreds of homes already damaged in Nevada this year.

"Just like the levee break down in Fernley, they're looking at who to blame. So I think everybody's interest is to, together, build it right."

Work should begin in March on the levee, which will be built to the latest Army Corps of Engineers' post-Hurricane Katrina specifications.


Michael Clifford/John Robinson, Public News Service - NV