Study finds dam in Truckee needs repair |

Study finds dam in Truckee needs repair

TRUCKEE – A small dam in Truckee that provides about one-third of the flood storage capacity for Reno on the Truckee River is at risk of collapsing, federal officials warned.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the Martis Creek Dam is among the six most at risk in its entire 610-dam inventory and called for swift action to shore up the dam.

Some officials said a dam failure might be catastropic for downstream communities, but other officials said it’s uncertain how much damage would occur.

“At this time, I don’t think we know the real magnitude of a flood from perhaps a dam break failure in comparison to actual, typical winter flooding in Reno,” said Jeff Bradley, a member of a peer review committee that agrees with the Corps findings.

Corps spokesman Pete Pierson said the dam has developed seepage problems since it was built in 1972. The coarse glacial desposits of sand, gravel and boulders used to build the dam are allowing water to seep through.

“We’ve identified Martis Creek Dam as a very high-risk dam through risk assessment,” Pierson said.

The Corps has committed more than $6 million to study the dam until 2011, with design work set to begin in 2012.

While a decision on the dam’s fate is years away, Corps officials said potential solutions range from repairing the dam to removing it completely. Until then, the Corps will keep the reservoir at a minimum level.

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