Contractors working on the Extraordinary Maintenance project of the Truckee Canal in Fernley continue the dirt work this week through the Fernley Check. According to Ben Shawcroft, general manager of the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, work on the lining of the canal should begin in March.
In June the Board of Directors of TCID approved shutting down the canal for the construction of the project, effective October 1, 2022, preventing diversions to the Lahontan Reservoir and keeping Truckee Division water right holders from calling on their water until the construction project is completed. The completion date is set for October 1, 2023.
As required by Nevada Revised Statutes, TCID was required to hold an election to approve the repayment contract between the district and the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that has required the maintenance project. Water right owners voted in the June 30 special election, 1,886 ayes to 168 nays, to approve and affirm the $35 million repayment contract to line a 3.5-mile stretch of the canal deemed “critical” as the most risk-prone for a breach.
The extraordinary maintenance is being undertaken in response to the January 2008 canal breach, which flooded 590 homes in Fernley, resulting in an $18 million settlement to victims.
After the election, TCID Petitioned the 10th Judicial District Court for a Determination of Validity and Authority to enter into the repayment contract based on the election results.
The City of Fernley filed a challenge and Motion to Intervene in that matter, arguing through attorney David Rigdon that Fernley has an interest in the repayment of the contract as an owner of nearly 10,000 acre-feet of Claim Three Newlands Project water rights which could potentially result in $2.5 million in assessments to the city. Rigdon said Fernley is challenging the validity of the contract, saying the district entered into it under duress.
Before the special election, then General Manager, Rusty Jardine said in several public meetings that should electors vote no against the contract the BOR would reduce the flow in the canal to 140 cubic feet per second. The canal generally runs at 500 cfs to serve water rights and carry water to the Lahontan Reservoir.
Judge Jim Shirley heard arguments in October before issuing an order in December 2022 denying the motion to intervene and striking the peremptory challenge. According to Davy Stix, TCID Board member and Truckee Division water right owner, “Judge Shirley said the case of how TCID pays the repayment contract is not ripe and that TCID has not determined how they are going to pay.”
Both Shawcroft and Stix have said that at this time Fernley has submitted a request to the Supreme Court of Nevada to overturn Shirley’s order, while TCID waits for Judge Stockard to set a hearing on their original request to certify the election and authorize entering into the contract.
“BOR is on schedule with the construction of the maintenance project,” said Shawcroft, “and expect to complete the lining by October 1.”
Thank you, Fallon Post.