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Corps holds public meeting on Mount Charleston temporary flood structure

Published Sept. 13, 2014

MOUNT CHARLESTON, Nev. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District held a public meeting with officials from the USDA Forest Service, the State of Nevada and other local agencies at the Mount Charleston Volunteer Fire Department Engine Station #81 here Sept. 12 to discuss the upcoming berm and diversion channel the District will be constructing.

The temporary structure, approximately 2,200 feet long, will be built on Forest Service land. The structure is designed to divert flows from rain events into a natural wash and away from the neighborhood. It is designed for a “25-year” rain event, an event which has a 4% chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. The design reflects the District’s expectation that flows from rain events in the burned areas will bring a large volume of debris along with the water.

Col. John Lim, the acting Los Angeles District commander, and members of the District staff – along with federal, state and local agency representatives – spoke with residents about the upcoming Advance Measures project. Lim said construction is scheduled to begin Oct. 2 and should take approximately 30 to 45 days, depending on weather conditions in the area.

“What we do in the Corps of Engineers is deliver vital engineering solutions, while collaborating with our partners to reduce risk from disaster,” Lim said. “With our federal, state and local partners, we are confident this berm and diversion channel will help alleviate the flood damage from future storms for several years to come.”

In July 2013, a fire burned nearly 27,000 acres in the Springs Mountain National Recreation Area. Within weeks of the fire, monsoon rains washed debris down into the Rainbow Canyon neighborhood. On Feb. 27, the State of Nevada, under Public Law 84-99, requested federal assistance and USACE support. Upon receiving approval from Corps headquarters, the Los Angeles District sent a team to inspect the site in March and design a temporary berm and diversion channel structure for the neighborhood.  

In August, the State of Nevada signed a cooperative agreement with the Corps of Engineers taking on long-term liability associated with the temporary structure. With the cooperation agreement signed with the State of Nevada, the District prepared to complete the structure. Over the Labor Day weekend, the Los Angeles District sent in a team to survey the area in preparation for construction.

“We had to make sure we had the latest information for our decision making process as we move forward,” said Richard Leifield, the District’s chief of Engineering Division. “We’ve got all that debris as well as the water coming down [during rain events.]”

During the public meeting, the District team discussed the plan for the construction and the temporary nature of the project. The State of Nevada will provide maintenance for the berm and diversion channel structure once the District completes construction.

“We’re not claiming complete risk elimination,” Leifield said. “We’re designing a project for risk reduction.”

The expected life of the structure is between seven and 10 years. The purpose is to give native vegetation time to regrow to provide natural mitigation for rain events.

“We’re very grateful for the cooperation of the Forest Service, which is letting us build this berm and diversion channel structure on its land,” said Lim. “We’re grateful for the cooperation from the State of Nevada for agreeing to take on the task of ensuring this project is maintained; without the teamwork exhibited among each of the agencies involved, there is no doubt this project would not be happening right now.”

The District expects to begin construction in early October. The construction should take approximately 30 days.