The district board wants to require developers to install an impermeable barrier in any section of the Truckee Canal above new development.
Dave Overvold, TCID project manager, said the barrier would be a vertical concrete wall on the canal’s north bank.
A Jan. 5 breach of the canal flooded about 600 Fernley homes. The 31-mile canal, operated and maintained by the irrigation district, sends water from the Truckee River to Fallon-area farmers.
Currently, developers building homes north and downhill of the Truckee Canal are required to widen the canal bank.
Fernley City Councilman Cal Eilrich, former president of the Fernley Builders Association, said he agrees the canal needs to be reinforced, but sees it as more of a public works project than an irrigation district project.
He noted that some of worst damage from the January flood occurred a half-mile downstream from the canal breech, and that a concrete wall upstream wouldn’t have helped unless it extended the entire length of the canal through Fernley.
“This is an issue that affects all citizens who live in Fernley,” said Eilrich, who stressed he was speaking only as a former developer.
“If a future developer comes in and builds next to the canal, he should be made to pay some amount of money to offset the costs (of building the concrete wall),” Eilrich told the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle Standard newspaper.
Eilrich also noted residential development has essentially stalled in Fernley due to the real estate downturn and it could be another five years before a big development breaks ground.
Hundreds of vacant homes remain in inventory now, Eilrich said, with 900 finished lots that have yet to be developed.
The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the canal, has limited the amount of water flowing in the Truckee Canal and established several benchmarks for TCID to meet before flows are increased.
Reclamation bureau officials have said they expect the permanent fixes to take several years to complete.
The TCID board will consider the proposal when it meets at 9 a.m. Monday.