Inspectors keep tabs on 20 to 30 'high hazard' dams in Truckee Meadows

Little Washoe Dam.jpg

Inspectors say 20 to 30 dams in the Truckee Meadows are categorized as "high hazard."

The "high hazard" rating means if they were to breach, there would be catastrophic damage that could result in severe flooding.

Inspectors say they examine the dams at least once a year for cracks, holes and seeping water.

"We like to see them in different weather conditions. We like to see them when they're full and when their dry. So we mix up when we go to the dams," said Nevada Dam Safety Manager Eddy Quaglieri.

Quaglieri says their recent inspections have revealed the dams are in satisfactory condition and that the damage they discovered at the Washoe Lake Dam on Monday was out of the ordinary.

"It was a complete surprise to all of us," said Quaglieri.

Repairs and maintenance could become costly on some of the biggest reservoirs in Northern Nevada and California.

The Bureau of Reclamation maintains dams at Tahoe, Prosser, Boca, Stampede and Lahontan reservoirs. A spokesperson says the work on the dams is constant.

"There's not really a pass or a fail, it's what do we have to do? What do we see that needs to be fixed," said Scott Schoenfeld with the Bureau of Reclamation.

Current maintenance and repairs at Boca and Reservoir dams could top $50 million.

The Boca Reservoir dam is getting reinforced so it would withstand earthquakes. The Stampede Reservoir dam will be raised more than 11 feet.

Officials say the repairs and maintenance is worth it; if the dams at Boca and Stampede reservoir were to fail, it could be catastrophic.

"There would be a major flood downstream that could potentially cause deaths to the community if they didn't get out of the way," Schoenfeld.

Recent inspection reports for "high hazard" dams:

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