On Your Side: Toll Road residents say flooding is taking its toll
For Lyn Anninos, it's become a little too predictable. When heavy rains hit like they did in January, the water pours down from the canyon behind her home on Toll Road in south Reno.
The Bailey Creek watershed is made up of miles of creeks and drainages, which all feed downhill into her neighborhood.
"How vulnerable do you feel living there?" we asked her.
"When the flooding is happening, very vulnerable," she said.
Part of Anninos' front yard washed away during our January storms as county crews fought an uphill battle to keep drainages from backing up and overflowing.
So how tough is it to keep up? We found a giant pile of dirt piled up at the bottom of Toll Road. It represents just some of the sediment that county crews pulled out of nearby Bailey Creek after our last storm.
"This drainage canal was completely full of sediment for 200 feet," said Dave Solaro, Washoe County's director of Community Services.
It's a problem that's been going on for decades and rears its ugly head every few years when the real heavy rains hit.
News 4 has learned local government agencies, including Washoe County, have spent at least $660,000 to study the problem going back to 1999. Yet little if anything has been done to prevent flooding from happening.
"You've got to remember we are in a flood plain," Solaro said. "We should expect that it is going to flood at some point."
The studies that have been done have outlined a $13 million price tag to build retention ponds and line drainages to prevent erosion. About $13 million for flood prevention is not in the county's budget, according to newly elected commissioner Bob Lucey, who represents Toll Road residents.
"When we choose projects, we have to choose projects that are beneficial for the entire county or that are going to service the greatest amount of population," he told us.
Lucey says the county is working to find solutions. Partnering up with federal agencies to share the costs and responsibilities might be one possibility down the road.
But there are no simple answers in sight.
"We're looking at it right now. It's top of mind," Lucey said.
But what residents like Lyn Anninos want is peace of mind. They're still waiting for that.
"It's very frightening to myself and all my neighbors downstream when there's a flood event."
Much of that land above Toll Road, where the sediment and rocks are coming from, actually belongs to the Bureau of Land Management. Could they step in? We asked Lisa Ross, a spokesperson for the BLM. She said the BLM manages the land but they don't typically do flood prevention work.
So hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to study the problem, but there are no solutions -- yet.
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