Repairs to a damaged section of Fernley canal are under way |

Repairs to a damaged section of Fernley canal are under way

FERNLEY – Crews have begun permanent repairs to a section of an earthen irrigation canal that ruptured, flooding hundreds of homes in Fernley after unusually heavy rain early this month.

Ernie Schank, president of the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District board, said dirt fill used for the temporary fix will be removed before the 50-foot hole is refilled with new, stronger material.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Jeffrey McCracken said the breach will be filled with regular soil, covered with sand and topped with cobbled rock.

He said the smaller-sized sand will prevent particles from pushing into the embankment, while the rock will help keep rodents such as gophers and muskrats out of the bank.

“Also, the rock will serve as an armor to protect the bank from erosion,” Schank told the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle Standard newspaper.

President Bush has declared portions of the town 30 miles east of Reno a national disaster area, making federal relief available to hundreds of people whose homes were swamped by the Jan. 5 levee rupture. The flood was accompanied by a powerful storm that dumped up to 11 feet of snow in the Sierra.

Work on the permanent repairs began Tuesday and will take about 10 days to complete, McCracken said.

The bureau leases the 32-mile canal to the irrigation district, which uses it to send Truckee River water south to Fallon-area farms.

It was not immediately clear which agency would pay for the repairs.

“We’re not going to worry about that now,” McCracken said. “Our efforts are first to get the best possible engineered design we can.”

Lining the entire length of the canal with cobbled rock is not currently an option under consideration, Schank said.

He said lining the banks with it may be possible “down the road,” but other long-term options also will have to be explored.

The entire length of the canal was inspected last week by personnel from the irrigation district, reclamation bureau, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and city of Fernley.

Schank said the teams searched for rodents and deterioration of banks.

The cause of the breach remains under investigation.

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