Reno seeks $ 440 million for aging stormwater system

RENO, Nevada (KOLO) – Engineers in the City of Reno say they want to prevent disaster before it happens.

Utilities Director Trina Magoon says the city has hundreds of over-the-top projects and if left unchecked it could lead to flooding in streets, neighborhoods and homes.

A KOLO 8 News Now survey reveals three main areas of concern and this report will highlight them.

We started our search in South Reno at Dry Creek on West Huffaker Lane, where an undersized box culvert directs water under the road. Its small size forced water to back up under the concrete structure and erode the soil below.

In 2006, a cavity approximately three feet deep and seven feet behind the front face of the culvert was discovered.

In 2013, cracks in the culvert walls were discovered and by July 2021 the problem could no longer be ignored as the hollow space under the culvert extended 15 feet from the face of the culvert.

“It could potentially collapse the sidewalk and the road above,” said Trina Magoon, director of utilities for the City of Reno.

City leaders took action and filled the open space with injectable foundation foam to provide support until a larger culvert was put in place.

Our investigation led us to a second problem at Lake Virginia, where periodic water flow results in algae blooms.

“The cause of the algae blooms is really related to the lack of movement across the lake,” Magoon said.

The proposed solution is to install an underwater diffuser to protect fish and control odors and a riparian wetland filtration system to reduce the high levels of nutrients that enter the lake and feed the algae in the water.

We found a third issue at 4th Street and Stoker Avenue when a July 26, 2021 microburst flooded the area.

The City needs to improve the water in this area to make it a suitable drainage site.

These are just a few of the hundreds of projects that need to be repaired or built to control stormwater flow in the City of Reno. A 2019 study finds that Reno needs $ 440 million in stormwater upgrades and repairs over the next 20 years, but there is no utility charge for stormwater.

City officials take $ 3.50 from the sewage charges that the citizens of Reno pay each month for these projects.

In total, that totals $ 105 million, leaving city leaders to search for the remaining $ 335 million.

The proposal is to create a new item on the sewer bill called “sewer user fees”.

It would be between $ 8.50 and $ 10.50.

It would pay for all the projects. KOLO 8 Evening Anchor Noah Bond asked Magoon why she couldn’t find the money elsewhere in the budget.

“Much of this infrastructure already exists. It is aging. We have to maintain it and we don’t have enough sources of funding to maintain what we have, ”she replied.

Reno City Council will make the final decision on this fee increase.

The City of Reno is currently seeking public input on the potential creation of a new storm water utility. A stormwater utility collects fees from landowners to maintain or improve stormwater and flood reduction infrastructure. Residents will have another opportunity to get information and provide feedback at a virtual public meeting on Tuesday, October 12, 2021 from noon to 1:30 pm Registration details will be available at StormwaterUtility.

Copyright 2021 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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