TRFMA seeks additional funding for flood projects, Washoe voters may be asked to fund projects in 2018
May 28, 2017
Many businesses and residents were affected by the severe rain and flooding in the early months of 2017. The Truckee River Flood Management Authority (TRFMA) is working to help minimize future flooding in the Truckee Meadows.
Jay Aldean, executive director of TRFMA, said that while 2017 has been a big water year, it was not like the mega floods that northern Nevada has had in the past.
"We did not have a big flood this year," Aldean said in a phone interview with NNBW. "We had 10 rain events that all combined to a huge water year."
It was a very unusual year, he said. The area typically does not get as much flooding in the outlying areas, such as the major flooding experienced by residents of North Valleys. Yet, the flooding region wide was not as bad compared to past flood years in Washoe County.
"If you look at the historic record of flood events in the region, we have had a number of just hellacious storm events," he said.
According to the TRFMA website, the 1997 New Year's Flood caused more than $1 billion in damages in northern Nevada and about $700 million in damages in Washoe County.
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In order to mitigate economic impacts from future flood events, TRFMA is working on the oversight and implementation of the Truckee River Flood Management Project (Flood Project). The goal of the project is to reduce damages of future floods in the Truckee Meadows. The agency was created in 2011 in an agreement with Washoe County, the City of Reno and the City of Sparks.
"Our charge as an organization is to plan, engineer and then construct the Flood Project," Aldean said.
He said that while the organization has a simple mission, it is not a simple task. There are many players including the federal and local government, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and more.
"It is an extremely complicated issue and there are many moving pieces," he said.
In 2014, the organization got congressional authorization to build the Flood Project. The project is estimated to cost $446 million and TRFMA is now exploring how to fund it.
"We have been since then trying to figure out how we were going to come up with that portion of that federal project," Aldean said.
TRFMA is currently funded by a one-eighth-cent infrastructure sales tax which helped provide some of the funding for projects such as the new Virginia Street Bridge. However, Aldean said that additional funds are needed to construct Flood Project.
"We are now pursuing state legislation to form a committee."
Assembly Bill 375 was introduced in the 2017 Session of the Nevada Legislature Session. The bill "allows the imposition of certain taxes in a county to fund flood management projects of a flood management authority based on the recommendations of a flood control project needs committee and voter approval," according to the bill summary.
Aldean explained that the committee would recommend a question that will go on the ballot in 2018 and provide a report to elective officials of the northern Nevada on how to move forward with drainage. "The voters of Washoe County can vote in 2018 if they want to build the project or not," he said.
It will be similar to the Public Schools Overcrowding and Repair Needs Committee formed by the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees. This committee was formed after the passing of Senate Bill 411 in the 2015 Nevada State Legislative session.
"It will be exactly like the school district's 411 committee that was formed in order to form a ballot question for 2016," Aldean said.
AB 375 passed in the Nevada Assembly on April 25 and is currently in the Senate. If passed, individuals will be appointed to the committee by various subsidiaries and by government officials such as The Chamber, Economic Development of Western Nevada (EDAWN), mayors of Sparks and Reno, county commission, the governor and more.