September 18, 2017
It has been awhile since we had something to report. It has been a quiet summer and the destructive SEC project moves forward. However, due to winter flooding, the project is behind schedule and is now projected to be completed in April of 2018.
There are several things to report including a new effort to save Rosewood Lakes Golf Course! Please view this link and do what you can to support this effort. There is some good information here on this page and is updated often!
NEW DEVELOPMENT PROJECT PLANNED FOR BUTLER RANCH NORTH AND SOUTH
Late last month the Coalition was contacted by Argentum Partners, a public relations company, representing Newport Pacific Land Group. Newport are the new owners of the Butler Ranch North and South and have plans to develop the properties.
Our initial meeting last month was introductory, as they did not have any details except that they have planned to build 4000 residential units and that they have plans to submit a master plan amendment in October and anticipate submitting their Handbook in November. They stated that the number of units was not negotiable.
Newport is using Wood Rodgers as their planners and a follow up meeting was scheduled to get more detail and to bring their technical experts so we could get our questions answered. That meeting was held last week and we are reporting on what we know so far.
Unlike the Lennar Development that was previously planned, the Butlers sold the entire ranch and there will not be a "homestead" of 40 acres left for their living areas.
First, there will be impacts to waters of the U.S. so a permit from the Corps will be needed. They said for "sections". Reminiscent of RTC saying that they could build Phase 1 as a stand alone project, due to the fact that it could have connected to the Mill Street extension. They do not anticipate a problem with getting permits.
One of the first things during the 2nd meeting was to learn that the development has increased from 4000 residential units, to about 4500.
The 4500 units are to be built on the Butler Ranch North and the Butler Ranch South; which is south of the Narrows. A total of 960 acres. Average of 4.6 dwelling units per acre. The southern portion would be from the Narrows to South Meadows Parkway and would include on the east side of the dirt road on the old construction quarry. The mixture is to be single family, apartments, townhomes/duplexes and commercial. 1/3 of the property is not to be developed. That 1/3 includes a hill that cannot be developed so it is to be considered open space, multi use floodable ball fields, their flood mitigation trench and a few other "green" areas . Entrances are to be the SEC, Mira Loma, Rio Poco and South Meadows Parkway. Additionally the dirt road south of the Narrows is to be paved in that section and there will be access from there also.
Their flood mitigation plan is to dig a big trench on the east side of their development and use that material as fill for the west side of their development. There was much discussion on the issue of flooding and recent modeling from the Flood Project, including discussion on modeling that the Coalition has been asking the Flood Project for, for more than a year. That modeling is the 3D modeling of flooding in the south Reno flood plain that includes the SEC but does not include the Flood Project. We have been asking the Flood Project for that modeling for over a year and they keep putting us off.
The developers have grid tested for mercury and methyl mercury but not arsenic. Because arsenic is naturally occurring in the area, they state that the samples could not distinguish from naturally occurring and that which has flowed down through flood events from Little Washoe Lake, so the issue would be pointless. Our argument to them was that regardless of where it came from, if levels are too high that should be a factor. There was no response. In regards to the mercury, it was found in about 4 areas. They only tested down to 2 feet. Their opinion was that if there was not a significant amount of mercury on the surface, then there was not any mercury deeper than that. Their plan is to excavate the mercury and bury it two feet deep in their open spaces, park areas.
One of the alterations that they plan on doing is to remove the smaller dam (not the large dam on Alexander Lake Rd), the one by the industrial area just north of South Meadows Parkway, which if we understood right, was installed to help with irrigation of ranching fields, and convert that to a marsh/wetlands area.
There were 49 architectural sites found however of those 49 only about 11-13 would be considered eligible for avoidance.
They plan on building a wall/fence to keep out the horses.
Some smaller points are that
- they will have a website up, as they say, soon, and we will keep everyone updated as we learn more
- it was made very clear that our presence at the meeting did not constitute approval
- they must meet with individual HOA's or concerned groups to include the Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection group, and hold at least one town hall - and they should notify people within 1500 yards of the project by mail.
We offered up impassioned pleas to have them consider that they are eliminating a huge section of what is left of the available flood storage areas, and were met with thank you for coming's.....
May 8, 2017
City Council Action on Mercury May 10th
Time 12:00 pm
The Coalition has been working for over a year asking the City to implement standard procedures to test for mercury when any development project, amendments, or extensions come up in the entire Steamboat Creek floodplain. We have received the following from Councilman Delgado who forwarded from the City Manager. Please consider coming to the April 26th meeting to voice your concerns. PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THE DATE ON THE MEMO FOR THE PRESENTATION HAS CHANGED TO MAY 10TH. AGENDA ITEM J.5
Please consider attending the meeting to voice your support of a policy to require testing for all areas in the Steamboat Creek flooding areas when it comes to any type of development. If you can't come please email the City Clerk to get your comments on the record.
On Friday, March 17th, 2017 City of Reno Community Development staff met with representatives from the State of Nevada, Division of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Corrective Actions (NDEP), and from the Washoe County Heath District, to discuss the mercury impacted areas under the jurisdiction of NDEP, pathways to mercury contamination/poisoning and typical evaluation, and mitigation protocols. During that meeting, it was conveyed that while the Steamboat Creek Watershed is downstream of the historical Washoe Lake mining operations and is acknowledged to have some level of mercury contamination, the portion of the watershed within the City of Reno has not been identified as a mercury mitigation area by NDEP.
NDEP representatives have offered to make a presentation to Council at its regularly scheduled meeting of April 26, 2017. Additionally, Community Development staff has begun researching past development projects within the Steamboat Creek watershed to determine if there are any developments outside of the NDEP designated mercury mitigation area that warrant investigation, and also how past development practices compare with current NDEP mitigation protocols. Staff anticipates presenting its findings concurrent with the NDEP presentation on April 26, 2017.
Rosewood Lakes to become Pembroke Recreational Complex
Was Heard at City Council April 26, 2017
On April 26th the City of Reno approved one company to hold community meetings regarding what is going to be called the Pembroke Recreational Complex. This company was approved to go out to the community and get input regarding the transformation of the Rosewood Lakes Golf Course into a sports complex. We understand there is to be almost a dozen baseball fields, some soccer fields, walking trail, a possible multi use building and possibly some golf in the area that is the RLGC and the undeveloped city properties that are north of Pembroke.
It is our understanding that this company only has permission from the City to get community feedback at this time and that nothing has been approved yet. Apparently this company is to use it's own funds for development. Keep an eye out for the community meetings to get more information!
March 6, 2017
Please be aware that this response was received by the Coalition in February. This was before there was any drainage in the construction site. It also should be known that RTC and other federal agencies have responded that since the mercury from the breach and the existing mercury in Steamboat Creek are from the same source and therefore have the same characteristics, it cannot be determined from where the mercury increase came from. The increase was reported to be 1000% over pre-construction numbers. The Coalition sent strong language to all entities that the opposite could be true and the increase came from the breach, not Steamboat Creek. We stated strongly that they could not make their determination with any certainty. We have not received any follow up information on this issue.
Below is a summary of the events and actions related to the breach. RTC coordinated with the Corps prior to the flood and they put in place protection measures for the stockpiles and prepped the entire site for flooding. Granite Construction began preparing for the upcoming storm 1/4/2017 and continued through 1/6/2017. The work activities to prepare for the storm are listed below:
· Move construction equipment, materials, and portable toilets to high ground.
· Any material that could blow away in the wind or get washed away in flood water was either removed or secured
· All electrical systems turned off at the power poles
· The berms of clean soil surrounding the stockpiles of soil containing mercury were inspected and reinforced where needed
· Ensured BMPs remain installed correctly
· BMPs monitored on a very frequent basis throughout the weekend, day and night.
· Excavators were stationed near the Steamboat Creek drainage structures at Alexander Lake Road, Mira Loma Drive, and Pembroke Drive to remove any upstream debris that flowed into the project site and became lodged
· The project team was prepared to respond as conditions changed and monitored the conditions closely.
RTC did as requested and completed water quality sampling prior to the event. They also sampled on Monday 1/9/2017 after Steamboat Creek crested and again on 1/13/2017. The Corps was able to meet with RTC and PLPT Water Quality regarding the SEC on Wednesday 1/11/2017. The Corps viewed drone footage of the project site as did NDEP in a separate meeting with RTC The video shows the area of concern where the protective measures placed around 1 of the 12 mercury soil piles was breached and a relatively small portion of the pile did wash out. This stockpile contained Category 2 material.
The protective measures were not overtopped; the breach is theorized to have been caused by high velocities in the flood waters, which eroded part of the berm. It is theorized that the eroded soils dropped out on the South side of Mira Loma where water typically pools and sediment has an opportunity to drop out.
The RTC has done/will do the following in response:
1. Determined volume of material that washed out. The amount is estimated to be 16 cubic yards. A total of 125,000 cubic yards of soil containing mercury is already within the roadway embankment and 70,000 cubic yards are located in the twelve stockpiles. The 16 cubic yards equates to 0.0085% of the material that has been moved to date (195,000 cubic yards).
2. Sample soils in stockpile adjacent to wash out to try and determine concentration of what was washed out. As of this time, soil sampling has not been done yet. The areas are under ice or frozen.
3. Complete an assessment of ponded area by Mira Loma and other areas of deposition on the project site to determine what concentration of mercury was deposited and how to handle. A sampling plan has been proposed. Corps comments and recommendations:
· Given that Mercury is moving through the Steamboat creek system from upstream at Little Washoe Lake, how will that effect the results of sediment testing? Will it dilute the concentration? Will it increase the concentration? How will they know if what is within the site are the soils from the stockpile or the soils from the creek, or a combination thereof?
· The Corps recommended the following: ASAP, repair and improve the protection around the mercury stock piles. While only 1 appears to have breached, other protections did scour. Because the issue was not the height of the berms, but their resistance to high velocity flows, K-rail was recommended to line the berms. Concrete barrier (K rail) was placed around the stockpiles for future protection against scour on 1/17/2017.
Major clean-up has not started. The ground is frozen and/or wet. There is still floodwater located within the project site. Minor clean-up has occurred, mostly debris removal along the creek and some hand removal of debris. In some areas the construction access road has had the sediment scraped off to the side in order to allow for limited access. Work on the roadway embankment has started. North of Pembroke Drive the vast majority of it is complete and paved. The embankment within the Golf Course is complete as it relates to the soil-containing mercury in the core of the embankment and the clean soil on the slopes (edges).
North Butler Ranch also has large sections with the soil-containing mercury within the clean soil slopes. Water quality samples were taken pre-storm and the samples taken on 1/13/2017 are pending. The Corps, NDEP, and RTC are working together to interpret the sample results. It’s complex since we are dealing with naturally occurring sources, effects of flooding within the area scouring existing deposits, as well as what is on-site.
EPA looked into the stormwater permitting issue, and NDEP did issue an NPDES stormwater construction permit, which required a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan. NDEP and EPA worked with RTC on their sampling approach and are comfortable with it. NDEP will accompany RTC on future sampling.
Coalition Working to Protect Intersections
We should have news soon on the land use designations for the intersection of the SEC and Mira Loma. We are working with Councilman Delgado to get the four corners of the intersections designated open space to prohibit the building of 7-11's and gas stations at the intersections.
A member of our Coalition Board, who lives in Hidden Meadows, has been trying to get a meeting with County Commissioner Bob Lucey for almost a year, and have yet to get a call back. We want to discuss with him - land use issues and trucks on McCarran. Our concerns date back to his first election when he stated that he was all for development around the SEC.
Would urge others to start calling him and telling him that land around the SEC should be designated open space as it is in Critical Flood Zone 1 and is federally and locally designated flood storage areas and portions are in a FEMA Floodway. His website states that Open Space is a priority for him. Ask him to prove it. Ask him to contact the Coalition so we can discuss these issues with him personally and remind him that he is up for re-election in email@example.com
HVHA to Hold Flood Project Meeting
HVHA invites you to our meeting on Thursday, March 16, 2017, 6:30 p.m. at Hidden Valley Elementary School.
The Truckee River Flood Management Authority (Flood Project) will favor us with a multi-media presentation, updating us on our recent flood and providing a status report on plans for mitigating future flooding events. There will be a new computer simulation program that displays various flood scenarios under certain circumstances.
Please plan to attend the presentation. Invite your neighbors come along.
January 5, 2017
We begin this year with a FLOOD WARNING for Steamboat Creek and urge every one of our stakeholders that live adjacent to, or near by Steamboat Creek to prepare for flooding either over the weekend starting January 7th or early next week when predicted rains are starting to taper off.
Local forecasters are equating the coming storm and subsequent flooding to possibly be equal to 2005 events, and as we all know, Steamboat reached it's all time record high crest of 6.79 feet above flood stage during that flood. To monitor Steamboat Creek this National Weather Service Advance Hydrologic Prediction Service website might be helpful.
If this link does not work, type in the National Weather Service Advance Hydrologic Prediction Service, click and it will say "more information needed", click on arrow and scroll down to Reno NV, click on that. Scroll down to "waterways menu" and click on "Truckee River and tributaries". Next scroll down to "tributaries" and click on "Steamboat Creek at a glance", that is the last item on list. Next, click on "all" in the right column at the top, then click on "all" in left column at the top and then scroll down and click on "Make my river page". Right now the gauge shows the creek at about 2 feet. Flood stage is 4.5 feet and 2005 flood stage was at 6.79 feet. Scroll down to bottom of the page for "historical crests".
Everyone who lives in the Rosewood Lakes, Herons Landing, lower Hidden Valley, Hidden Meadows, areas around Rio Poco and the Alexander Ditch, adjacent to the Bella Vista Ranch, Double Diamond, Damonte Ranch in areas around Steamboat Creek, and on Pembroke need to make any advance preparation that might be needed and be prepared for worse than 2005 but less than 1997 (we hope). Also, if you have businesses in the Sparks industrial areas, we recommend preparation for flooding.
The reason you should be wary is that members of our Coalition have seen the preliminary 2D modeling that the Flood Project has done of the area with the Southeast Connector but without the flood project and there appear to be serious issues with flood elevations. We cannot get our hands on the data right now, it is not available to the public yet, but those who have seen it says that there should be increases in flood elevations. BE PREPARED.
Sand bag areas that near our flooding areas are (there are others but these are closest):
Call (775) 334-4636 to report flooding within the City of Reno
— Mira Loma Park @ 3000 South McCarran Blvdu
Sparks Locations (operational by NOON on Thursday, January 5, 2017)
Call (775) 353-2231 to report flooding within the City of Sparks
— Stanford Way (between Cal Lane & Greg Street)
— Kresge Lane (between Bergin Way & Watson)
— Cottonwood Park (777 Spice Island Way)
— Deming Way (just south of Kleppe Lane)
— Larkin Circle (in front of Pick-N-Pull)
Sandbags and shovels will be provided.
Washoe County Locations
Call (775) 328-2180 to report flooding within unincorporated Washoe County
— Washoe County Operations Yard, 3101 Longley Ln, Reno (next to the Washoe County Animal Shelter)
— Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District Station #30 at 3905 Old Hwy 395, Washoe Valley
— Gander Ln and Eastlake Blvd in Washoe Valley (sand only)
— Paddlewheel and Andrew Lanes in Pleasant Valley
— Toll Rd and Geiger Grade
CLOSEST TO STEAMBOAT CREEK ARE:
Mira Loma Park
Washoe County Operations Yard at 3130 Longely next door to the Animal Shelter
Toll Rd and Geiger Grade
Paddlewheel and Andrews Lanes in Pleasant Valley
On a different note, we wanted to thank everyone who donated on Giving Tuesday to support our efforts to keep everyone informed of issues regarding the most important flood plain in the Truckee Meadows!
More to share at a later time.
Thank you and everyone be safe!
November 29, 2016
Hello Stakeholders! It has been awhile since our last update but we have much to tell you now.
First, after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, today is Giving Tuesday! We hope that you all will consider a small donation to the USECC to help with our expenses through 2017 with the majority being the expense of our website! If everyone who receives this update gives $5, then that would help us out immensely! Please click here to be directed to our "donate" page! Thank you everyone and we hope that your holiday season brings you peace and joy.
Next, the Coalition, with the help of Oscar Delgado and others on the City Council have successfully obtained a ban of big trucks on Mira Loma once the SEC is built. The Coalition has been working on this for quite some time and we are pleased that Mira Loma will not be a gateway for truck traffic to the SEC. Pembroke has a sign already, however we are trying to meet with our County Commissioner Bob Lucey to work to make sure that limitation will be ongoing but alas, as usual, he does not return phone calls. In months.
There was much going on in the late summer/early fall with the construction site and we will try and give you as much detail as we can. So here goes, during the summer we found out several things not the least of which was that, we are sure you know, that they found human remains in the construction site and spent quite a few weeks sifting dirt in an area to see if there was any more. Still waiting, but will probably not find out anything further with this as historical artifacts uncovered are kept secret as they want to keep looters from the site.
Next, something else from a very good source which was eventually confirmed is that the section of the road on the Rosewood Lakes Golf Course was sinking. And not just a little bit. Reports had it sinking up to 2-3 feet in several months. After some back and forth exchanges with RTC's Garth Oksol we found out that, of course this was expected and we had nothing to worry about as those with their engineering degrees were going to fix this minor problem and make everything well again! So, first a very large trench was dug, then they packed it with large pieces of concrete from another Granite construction site (kill two birds with one stone, as you may know, Granite needs to save money wherever it can so it did not want to have to pay to dispose of some concrete if it could be used elsewhere!), buried it, drove trucks on it back and forth for months to pack it down, then put yellow markers between two telephone poles so they could see if the ground was still sinking, and oh by the way, the Corps told them they had to wait about 250 days to see if it settled before they could continue with their construction on that section of road. Apparently, due to their outstanding idea of packing large pieces of broken concrete into a floodplain that has a lot of ground water under it and using their extensive brain power and educations, it has not moved for at least 100 days and they are now able to continue their work of joining communities together and fix all the traffic problems within the Truckee Meadows with their little project. The Coalition had brought this to the attention of the Corps and others, and the Corps was the one that agreed with the plan of packing down and waiting for stabilization. All those degrees and they think this is going to work!
Next, at the end of October there were several rain events that RTC was making out to be extraordinary and unusual (which, as we all know, were not) and that, of course, there was no way for them to know that there was going to be minor flooding in the construction site but again, of course, all their redundant safety measures worked and there was no issues with soil contaminated with mercury getting out even though all their sani-huts were underwater and spread sewage everywhere (they will tell you that they did not work on that extremely windy Friday before the storm but they are sure that Sani-Hut did and cleaned out the huts before they flooded and they are sure that the sewage that was found on site either came from Sani-Huts upstream in some other construction site or the cows did it)...(with toilet paper). Generators with fuel and possibly some fuel storage tanks were also under water. But everything is fine. 70 mph winds blowing on their mercury pile followed by over a day of rain did no damage what so ever and contaminated nothing. Believe us!
We started to receive reports that there might have been more damage due to the flooding than they were reporting. We contacted several people and the results being that it seems the Corps did a site tour and possibly got some soil samples. If we are able to find out anything we will let everyone know.
We are still working on some other issues and will provide another update to everyone (hopefully) soon!
August 18, 2016
Once again, we want to apologize for the delay in updates. The Coalition has been working toward getting answers to questions, and that process is predicated on when those we are seeking answers from provide those complete answers! At this time we are going to give you a partial update and hope to be able to provide you with the a more complete update soon.
First, the initial step in making sure big rig truck traffic is not allowed on Mira Loma and Pembroke has been taken by the Reno City Council for Mira Loma. Last week the City approved designating staff time for research on this issue and we hope that this will be back before council soon, and that it is passed by a majority of council members. Pembroke has a "no trucks" sign already on it, however we are following up with the County to make sure that is to remain in place.
Next, the Hidden Valley Newsletter had an excellent article on the Flood Modeling that we to share with you. We were going to write one but theirs is better so we have blatantly stolen it. But it is not the whole story. The last paragraph before the "references" is the most important. The Flood Project has now been tasked with getting a model of the area without the Flood Project so that the various municipalities can see the modeling of the area with the SEC but without the Flood Project. Our sources tell us that is because they believe the Flood Projects 100 year flood plan is either never going to be built or will not be built for decades to come.
We have also been informed that the 2D modeling that we had been waiting for - the model of the area with the Flood Project and the SEC is not available at this time even though it is completed, because they want to get the new requested modeling done before they release the modeling of the Flood Project with the SEC. We are being told 2-3 months.
So here is the article stolen from the Hidden Valley July Newsletter, written by Danielle Henderson of the Flood Project:
TRUCKEE MEADOWS FLOOD PROJECT
By Danielle Henderson, Natural Resource Manager
As reported in the March 2016 Hidden Valley Homeowners Association newsletter, the Truckee River Flood Management Authority (TRFMA) hired HDR, Inc. (HDR) to update the Truckee River Flood Management Project (Flood Project) hydraulic model using new modeling programs (2-D HEC-RAS1) and newer topographic data (LiDAR2 survey data of the river channel and overbank areas).
HDR recently developed a proposed conditions (with-Flood Project) model that incorporates the Southeast Connector roadway project managed by the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC). This model was developed to evaluate the potential impacts of the Southeast Connector on the proposed Flood Project.
Development of this model involved revising the Flood Project terrain to include components of the Southeast Connector; such as the roadway embankment, bridges (at Short Lane, Mira Loma Drive, Boynton Slough, and the Truckee River), numerous culverts, flood storage volume mitigation areas, and proposed channel modifications. Additionally, modeling methods for Steamboat Creek were revised to better simulate complex flow conditions at bridges and through culverts.
Results from this effort were presented to the TRFMA Working Group on June 22, 2016. Model results indicated a variety of changes in the 100-year Water Surface Elevation (WSE) due to the Southeast Connector:
**The WSE decreased by more than 0.6 ft in the Butler Ranch area, west of the Southeast Connector.
**The WSE increased up to 1 ft along Steamboat Creek upstream of Mira Loma Drive.
**Minor increases (<0.1 ft) in WSE were seen downstream of Mira Loma Drive (Rosewood Lakes and UNR Farms region).
**Minor decreases (<0.1 ft) in WSE were seen along Steamboat Creek downstream of Pembroke Lane.
**Minor variations in WSE (+-0.1 ft) were observed on the Truckee River.
**At the Vista Gage, peak WSE decreased slightly (0.02 ft). Peak discharge also decreased slightly (~47 cubic feet per second), and the time of peak stage was slightly delayed (~4 minutes).
Overall, minor impacts to the Truckee River 100-year event were observed within developed areas, while larger impacts were observed along Steamboat Creek. As part of its work, HDR compared this hydraulic model with the hydraulic model developed by consultant CH2MHill for RTC (in support of Southeast Connector design and permitting efforts); results between these models were fairly consistent.
Per requests from Flood Project stakeholders―including the TRFMA Working Group and Technical Advisory Committee―HDR is now developing an existing conditions (without-Flood Project) model that incorporates the Southeast Connector project. The purpose of this model is to analyze potential impacts of the Southeast Connector on the existing Truckee Meadows floodplain. TRFMA hopes this effort will help answer stakeholder questions and provide useful information to local floodplain managers.
References: 12-D HEC-RAS: Two-dimensional Hydrologic Engineering Center River Analysis System. This modeling software was developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers to perform two-dimensional unsteady flow simulations for natural and constructed channels.
2LiDAR: Light Detection and Ranging. Often collected via aircraft surveys, LiDAR is a remote sensing method that uses pulsed laser light to measure variable distances to the Earth in order to generate three-dimensional information about the Earth’s surface.
3Note that other recurrence intervals or events on tributaries have not yet been modeled.
Next, we have been getting information from several homeowners who stated that as of May 25, 2016, there was a FEMA map change from a LOMR (letter of map revision) and that some people were now in the flood plain and required to get flood insurance. When you click on the link, there are links to "revisions" and "amendments". We have a meeting next week with city staff to get clarification on this but it is our understanding that the mapping is from 1996 and FEMA is now releasing it as an update.
This is an email that was sent to the Coalition from Kerri Lanza (previous Flood Plain Manager):
The LOMR was already in effect from years ago (1996), however FEMA county-wide maps were not correctly updated to reflect the floodway revision that was accepted with the '96 LOMR. The LOMR published in 2016 correctly reflects the same floodway (accepted in 1996)
With this 2016 LOMR, homes were removed from the floodway as per 1996 LOMR
We are aware of homeowners who have received inquiries and/or letters from banks requiring flood insurance. Please direct these to Jackie Schalberg (334-3858) who will provide all the paperwork they need to demonstrate they are not in the flood hazard area.
After we have our meeting we will be able to clarify just what this is and what it's effect is on the CLOMR (conditional letter of map revision) that is waiting to be finalized on the SEC project area.
Next, one of our Coalition supporters, Scenic Nevada needs your help! In their fight to prevent billboard blight, they are going to City Council (was supposed to be next week however, as of today, the agenda item has been pulled so stay tuned) and we need you to sign the petition and or voice your opposition of more billboards in an email to the Council! Voters thought this was settled during 2000 when a voter referendum was overwhelmingly passed in Washoe County. The City of Reno then looked for ways to get around the referendum and has recently been told by the Nevada Supreme Court that they have been in violation of the referendum! Regardless of whether or not you are in the City of Reno, blight is blight and it affects all of us so get your voice heard!
Here is an email sent to our Coalition by Scenic Nevada asking for our help in fighting this blight that could be allowed on the SEC if the industry wants billboards on it!
We’re contacting individuals and organizations to ask them to weigh in on the billboard issue in Reno. The city council may review the digital billboard ordinance August 24 (at this time the item has been pulled but please sign the petition anyway). The agenda item was requested by Council Member Jenny Brekhus. We are trying to convince the city council to void all ordinances that allow new billboards here, digital billboards included. Often we’re told the opposition to billboards is limited to Scenic Nevada. But we think there is enough support from the community today to convince the new city council to carry out the people’s vote to ban new billboards, which became law in 2000.
Hoping you agree with us that billboards lead to clutter and blight and new ones should be banned. If you do, residents of Ward Three (and all City wide wards and the County) need to call Councilman Delgado (334-2012) and ask him to vote to support the billboard ban passed so long ago, but never enforced. We think a personal phone call from his constituents means a lot. If you can’t call, we’re hoping, as individuals you could do any of the following:
• Share our post links below on your personal and organization Facebook pages
• Pass this email around to office staff, friends or neighbors or other groups you know might be interested
• Come or send a rep to the meeting Aug. 24 to speak on behalf of banning billboards, or
• Send a letter to the Reno City Council
The Reno City Council meets on the issue Aug. 24.(pulled at this time) We don’t have a time certain but the mayor said she would try to hear it about 4 p.m. This might only be the first meeting (or the digital billboard item could get bumped – you never know). But, we’ll keep you posted.
We realize some people don’t like to load up their personal Facebook pages with advocacy stuff, so no worries there or bombard their office and neighborhood friends also. So, we appreciate anything you are comfortable doing.
Thanks for any help you can give.
Thank you Stakeholders!
More to come on this and other issues in our next update!
April 23, 2016
We want to apologize for the delay in updates, but we were waiting for the new HDR flood modeling that would include the SEC but just received this notice yesterday about the availability of that model
The April 27, 2016 TRFMA Working Group meeting has been canceled. TRFMA staffs had hoped to present the results from the latest hydraulic modeling effort by HDR, but the work is not quite complete. At this time, HDR has developed a working hydraulic model that includes the Southeast Connector; however the model requires some additional refinements and QA/QC before it will be ready for public presentation. We are planning to invite HDR to present the modeling results at our next Working Group meeting on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 3:00PM at our office, located in Suite A, 9635 Gateway Drive, Reno, NV.
As soon as that modeling becomes available we will be sending it out for all to review.
Next, we have been working to get answers on the many questions of wildlife and the spring hatching and birthing that is either going on or starting. Below is an email from RTC's Southeast Connector Project Manager Garth Oksol. Since this email was sent out to some of our more vocally concerned stakeholders as a response to their emails ahead of this update - please be aware that we already understand the irony of RTC claiming that they are in "awe" of all the wildlife, while they continue to destroy habitat as was sent back to us by some of you.
It has been indicated to us that RTC has not seen any bald eagle since December. It has been reported to us by our stakeholders that is the last time anyone saw any. So instead of hanging around getting photographed until the end of February as has been the case for more than 10 years. The bald eagles were gone by the end of December.
On a related note: We understand the frustration of not being able to pull over on McCarran anymore due to the McCarran Widening Project, and take pictures of the Great Blue Herons, Coyotes, Bald and Golden Eagles, Marmots, deer, other wildlife and various birds of prey, but that project was separate from the SEC and by the time it was understood what the easement was going to look like, it was too late to try and change. There were no plans presented for review after the initial public meetings back in 2010 and 2011 for the public to comment on.
Please note that photo's referenced in this response are not attached here.
Question from the Coalition:
We have been getting quite a few emails about it being spring and nesting time for birds and deer and other wildlife. The majority are asking since this is a "new" spring (another one) if you all are going to honor your commitment to search for nests and activity that might indicate baby animals in the project area. This is a very contentiousness issue for some who are writing, and they are indicating that they have seen no one out searching for nests and that you guys are just mowing/plowing etc. over the babies.
Can you please address this? If you all are still working to protect the wildlife and nesting birds like you claimed you did last year, it might be a good idea to give the press a tour and have it on the news?
Answer from RTC: (NOTE: response was sent April 12th)
Thank you for reaching out to me to get information. It is not only our intent to honor the commitment we’ve made to the community, but a condition of the permit we have been issued.
The 2016 Nesting Bird Season began on or about March 1. To date we have done 3 Bird Surveys and will be starting another one Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. The Bird Surveys are only conducted in areas where construction is to begin or start back up in areas that haven’t seen recent/current construction activity. So the biologist(s) are not on the entire site
Regarding not seeing anyone doing a Nesting Bird Survey or looking for baby animals; unless someone truly knows what to look for, the first step of the process is intentionally covert. To go out into the field and just begin walking around, peering into bushes or trees or burrows is disruptive and threatening to animals. Also, just randomly walking around looking for nests increases the risk of accidentally stepping on eggs or newborns, which is why we have not done a media tour specific to the bird surveys. With that said, we previously highlighted the work the biologists have done on site during our weekly construction updates that people can sign up to receive. We will be highlighting them again this season.
The first step is the biologist(s) view animal activity from afar, sometimes using binoculars. They may be standing, sitting, or inside a vehicle for many hours. Additionally, the biologist(s) must wear the same personal protection equipment on site as everyone else. They will be in pants, boots, a safety vest, eye protection, and hard hats. In essence, they’ll look like virtually everyone else on site.
I’ll give one example but the process is similar for other animals. When monitoring birds from afar, does the biologist witness birds carrying nest building material (twigs, string, ribbon, etc.) in their beaks, bringing the nest building material to a location, and repeating this activity? If so, the biologist(s) carefully approach the location where they’ve seen the bird(s) bringing nesting material. If the biologist(s) sees the nesting material and it’s beginning to take the shape of a nest, the proper protocol is to remove the material that is there. This encourages the bird to look elsewhere to build a nest.
Later in the season, if a nest being constructed was missed and there is an actual nest with an egg in it, then the area is fenced off and no construction activity is to occur within a certain perimeter depending on the bird species’ nest and egg that is found. This happened a few times last summer and a few times during construction of Phase 1. In fact, the opening of the Truckee River Path on Phase 1 was delayed 4 weeks while we waited for a killdeer’s eggs to hatch and for the newborns to get old enough to leave the nest. Also, actual Granite Construction folks working on the site have approached us to notify us they found a nest or witnessed nesting activity. Regardless of what folks may think, the project team is committed to protecting the environment as much as possible while still building a vital transportation link for the community.
I encourage you, and others, to sign up for one of our monthly public tours. You can visit www.southeastconnector.com to sign up for the tours and to receive weekly project updates. I have done a few private tours if you and a couple of other folks are interested. I’ve given multiple tours already, including to some Coalition members or supporters, and they have come away from the tour impressed with the level of effort we are doing to make this project as environmentally friendly as possible. While they may not agree with the need for the road, they are appreciative of the steps we are taking to protect the surrounding areas and the restoration work that is occurring.
As far as animals returning or residing in the area when construction is on-going or complete, I offer two examples.
The project team has been in awe of the wildlife visitors we’ve personally seen or observed their presence; i.e. tracks in the morning. We’ve seen mountain lion and bear tracks across the project. We also witnessed two golden eagles take down a goose and begin to eat it immediately west of our project offices. A bald eagle (see attached photo) then swooped down and scared off the golden eagles. A second bald eagle joined in on the feast while the golden eagles sat on a power pole nearby waiting. Once the bald eagles were full, they flew away, and the golden eagles cleaned up.
In addition, the other attached photo shows a typical wetland environment within the golf course. You’ll clearly see the wetlands are 100% overrun with whitetop. As you know, this is not a healthy wetland and not conducive to a healthy ecosystem to support and sustain wildlife. The project’s weed management plan and long term commitment is established to ensure whitetop is at a disadvantage to overrun the desirable vegetation that will be planted.
Please feel free to contact me anytime with questions. Also, please let everyone else know that they too can contact me directly with questions or concerns. Again, thank you for reaching out to me to get correct information.
Garth Oksol, P.E., M. ASCE
Project Manager – SouthEast Connector
Regional Transportation Commission
1105 Terminal Way, Suite 108
Reno, NV 89502
Desk: (775) 332-2137 Fax: (775) 348-1051
Cell: (775) 742-6851
The Coalition will be at the Earth Day Event at Idlewild Park with a booth to sell some of our beautiful posters and note-cards on Sunday April 24th from 11:00 am to about 5:00 pm. The Eagle Tree that is depicted in our note-cards only with a Bald Eagle in it is now gone. The area next to Herons Landing at Steamboat Creek where our poster of Wild Horses crossing is now gone. Fall on Steamboat Creek, one of our popular posters is of a location that is gone. Destroyed. We have a beautiful Eagle picture of an eagle launching off a post by the Pembroke bridge that is now gone, and it is doubtful that the eagles will return and remain all winter like they have for the past dozen years.
If you would like to come and see us, our booth will be in the "Animalia" section on the west side of the park by the baseball diamonds and close to the river path. We are just on the other side of the "Policy & Petitions" section of the event and also by the "Artisan Alley".
Come and introduce yourself!
We remain committed to working on keeping the rest of the flood plain undeveloped and to eliminate truck traffic on Pembroke and Mira Loma. With that said, we are hearing that the Lennar Development of over 1200 homes on the Butler Ranch North behind Herons Landing on Mira Loma could be rearing it's ugly head again. We may need your help with letters and coming to meetings to protest. We will keep everyone informed as we learn of anything new.
March 11, 2016
Welcome to our March update!
To start we would like to let everyone know that yesterday, on March 10th was Nevada's Big Give day. It was a day for people to give to invest in Nevada non-profits to help further their causes along. We did not participate in the "Big Give" as there are fees for these donations and we wanted to give our supporters the opportunity to support our non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization by contributing directly to our cause on our website! Ours is a tax deductible organization and we still have expenses such as our website, office supplies and sometimes getting legal advice on our next steps. If you would like to contribute, please visit our "Home" page or our "Donate Today" page and click on any one of the donate buttons to contribute. Thank you so much for your support!
Recently several of our Board Members had the opportunity to meet with RTC's Garth Oksol and get a tour of the construction site for the SEC. The following is a report on what they learned. Thank you to Coalition Board Members Wayne Sievers and Eric Cole!
Southeast Connector Tour
Commerical Truck Traffic
The RTC has no control over whether commercial truck traffic can use Pembroke Road for locations such as the FedEx terminal at Pembroke and McCarran Roads. Mr. Oksol provided Coalition with the name of the Nevada Department of Transportation Manager who handles the Freight Planning Section. After numerous telephone calls, someone is now working on our concerns to eliminate commercial trucks from using Pembroke and Mira Loma. More to come. (The Coalition is also working on this through other avenues in the City)
According to Mr. Oksol the turn lane radius at Pembroke toward McCarran is not designed for multi trailer commercial vehicles.
Pembroke will remain the two lane country road it is now until at least 2035 when it could be widened to four lands if traffic demands require this.
Traffic Speed and Noise levels
The speed for the SEC is set at 45MPH. The lanes will be 11 feet wide (normally 12 feet) and the road will have sharp curves. These two items will help keep the speed limit at 45 MPH. It is reported by RTC that at that speed limit we will be able to have conversations in our backyards. Will we hear cars driving by, Yes. (Note: A sound wall will be constructed 180 feet from Heron's Landing to the SEC)
Pembroke Stop Light
Where the SEC crosses Pembroke, Pembroke will be elevated 6 feet from where it is today. Construction at Pembroke and SEC will commence from Mid June 2016 until Mid August 2016. Pembroke will be closed to traffic during this period. The road shoulder on the south side of Pembroke just before the golf course entrance is a mud hole. During the summer construction the entrance will be moved west of its current location. Mr. Oksol said he will request asphalt coverage for the muddy road shoulder.
Dirt Pile Levels
The road height will be significantly less than what we see today. The road height is about 18 inches higher than required to compact the road soil by increasing the weight on the top of the prepared dirt road surface. Once compacted, the 18 inches will be removed. The very tall piles we see will also disappear. As road base is brought in the very tall - White Top covered dirt piles are being removed to a Granite Construction owned canyon for disposal. Approvals have been obtained for the White Top soil disposal.
New Wetlands By Hidden Meadows
RTC is creating an eighty acre wetland behind Hidden Meadows. There will be numerous ponds in the wetland that will be filled with water diverted to the north and south as it exits toward Steamboat Creek. These ponds are designed to eliminate pollution from water fowl feces and other things like fertilizer, oil etc. before the water is redirect into Steamboat Creek.
When asked about the new wetlands they are building and why they won't fail like the airport ones did. Mr. Oksol said that RTC will be responsible for the wetlands for at least 10 years and must make an annual report to the Corps on how they are doing. It was understood him to say that RTC must be able to report they are doing well for 3 years with no human intervention. Not exactly clear on this but we think that when the 10 years is up, RTC has to be able to show the wetlands are OK (for 3 years with no help) or they must keep responsibility until they are OK for 3 years.
Mr. Oksol was very open about the failure of the airport wetlands. Among the things they are trying to do differently is to build a nursery on the site well before the trees, etc are planted to give the vegetation time to acclimate to our environment. That way, any plants that aren't doing well never get planted to die later.
Removal of Plant Cages by Hidden Meadows Pond
If you walk around Hidden Meadows pond you will see metal fencing around dead trees on the far side of Steamboat Creek. This was the Airport Authority’s attempt at wetland mitigation that failed. RTC will remove this fencing.
Will The North Road Section be Completed First?
The answer is no. The entire SEC will be opened at one time in 2017. Today’s estimated completion date based on work completed would be winter 2017 but they hope to move up the date from a winter opening.
Even though they plan to open the entire length of the SE Connector at one time, individual sections may be completed before then, such as the section between Pembroke and Veterans Bridge. We are working to find out if completed sections can be made accessible to walking and biking as they are completed.
Pembroke will be closed for 2 months this summer. Everyone will have to use Mira Loma. It was requested of Mr. Oksol that the east end of Mira Loma become a 3 way stop at Hidden Valley. He thought that was a good idea. More to come on that.
Seven decommissioned electric poles are being left behind the Hidden Meadows pond as perches for birds of prey including Eagles and Hawks. Tree piles will be placed as islands along the project for wild animal habitat.
Right of way for the SEC has been obtained through the Butler Ranch.
Next the Coalition attended the meeting last month that was sponsored by Hidden Valley regarding updates on the Flood Project. At that meeting one of the things learned is that the Flood Project finally has some more updated modeling available to see where flooding has happened in the past and where flooding will happen in the future once the flood project has been built. They have posted the videos on YouTube but here is a link to their website where they can also be viewed.
Once on the site you will see under Presentations three videos. One is for the 1997 Flood Event, one is for the 100 year Flood Plain Existing (without flood project) and the last is the 100 Flood Plain (with flood project). Please be aware that none of these scenarios include a "with the SEC" option. That modeling is not done yet and will not be available until April or May. Once that is released to the public we will make sure that it is distributed to everyone.
During this talk it was learned that the City of Reno could not decide on a fee structure for paying for the City's share of this project so the Flood Project is now looking at going to the legislature for a sales tax increase with the added possible funding of, lets say "flood fees" for those who directly benefit from the project. Could be handled through, say your TMWA bill. In other words, the closer you are to flooding the more you pay in these fees. The further away, the less you pay. It appears that all of this is very much in the air right now and nothing has been settled in regards to either a sales tax or the benefit fee.
Last, the Coalition has not been made aware of any current plans for development in the areas we are concerned about, however we have been made aware of projects that have not met their approved design features (mainly the Manke project which is the RV storage facility on the corner of Pembroke and McCarran). We are working to make City officials aware of these issues.
February 7, 2016
The Coalition has been working toward steps that would lead to the completion of our short term goals of banning truck traffic on Mira Loma and Pembroke (with the possibility of other roads), getting all above ground hazardous wastes sites marked for public awareness, an emergency plan when a breach of this hazardous site occurs, and restricting development in the remaining federal flood storage areas, wetlands and open space.
On February 2nd, Ward 3 Neighborhood Advisory Board member Jay Kolbet-Clausell made a great, initial and cursory presentation to the other NAB members to seek their support in recommending to the City Council that they implement and pursue these steps for the safety of the entire community. After the presentation, there was a recommendation that a more in-depth presentation be made to the NAB to provide them more information on these measures. As soon as this is scheduled we will let everyone know. The Coalition is also pursueing other avenues to bring this to the attention of the City of Reno.
Thank you to Jay for his work on this and other initiatives that he is spearheading for the betterment of Ward 3!
Just an FYI to those who might be interested - Ward 3 is down to 9 NAB members from 13. There are 4 positions available on the NAB and it would be excellent to have more representation on the NAB for our communities. Please click HERE or on the link below to find out about the NAB and get an application if you are interested in helping our communities!
Our friends and neighbors in Hidden Valley are holding an event on February 18th! They are holding a forum on the flood project and the guest speaker is Executive Director of the Flood Management Project, Jay Aldean. Everyone from all over our area is invited to come! Discussions will include:
Latest info regarding the Project
Potential Fees for building the Project
Possibility of FEMA remapping
The event is being held by the Hidden Valley HOA and here are the particulars
February 18, 2016
at Hidden Valley Elementary School
on Alphabet Drive
(Pembroke to Tamarisk -north to History)
Please make sure to forward to your property managers to see if they can send out an email blast to your entire communities! Everyone is encourage to come and get up to date information on the Flood Project! If you don't live in an area with electronic availability to all your neighbors, we encourage you do let your neighbors know somehow!
On another note, the eagle pair that have been coming to the wetlands in and around Steamboat Creek were sited several weeks ago for a brief time and have not been reported to be seen since.
It is unfortunate that McCarran by UNR Farms is no longer available to pull over and watch wildlife like coyote, Great Blue Herons, Marmots, Turkey vultures, various birds of prey like Red Tailed Hawks, Kestrels, Coopers Hawks and Bald and Golden Eagles and other wildlife is no longer an option. In the brilliance of RTC - they have made pulling over to bird and wildlife watch there impossible, so those who have been doing this for more than 40 years (like many Coalition members) have lost that opportunity.
More to come soon......
January 26, 2016
In our ongoing efforts to protect open spaces, wetlands and flood plains in Washoe County, particularly focusing on upper south east Reno at this time due to the destructive project being built through those types of areas, we have an update to share.
Our short term goals at this time are to limiting truck traffic on Mira Loma and Pembroke to try and eliminate big rigs using these roads upon completion of this damaging project, find out exactly where the above ground hazardous waste landfills will be located and make sure that they are marked to identify in the event of a future breach in the area, working toward requiring the City of Reno to have a comprehensive plan for the area when a breach occurs, and work toward restricting development around this destructive project in future.
To meet these goals we have some support on the Ward 3 Neighborhood Advisory Board. Jay Kolbet-Clausell who is a resident of this area and is on the NAB is going to be doing a 5 minute presentation to the other NAB members at their next meeting to start the process of reaching these goals. We appreciate Mr. Kolbet-Clausell supporting these goals and working to try and get them implemented.
The Ward 3 NAB meeting is going to be
February 2, 2016
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Reno City Hall - One E. 1st St
7th Floor Caucus Room
We would like everyone to send emails to support these goals to the Ward 3 liasion:
Several months ago a Coalition Board member made public comment at the NAB requesting that any development that is proposed (no matter how small) that is south of the Truckee River and east of the Airport, and further south, east of 395 be required to have soil sample testing for all Chemicals of Concern, especially arsenic, mercury and methyl mercury. The Board seemed very receptive of the suggestion, but we have to be vigilant that Ward 2 (Double Diamond and Damonte Ranch and further south into the county) make sure that they are also requiring testing for the safety of the public.
The Coalition would like to let everyone know that all 2015 donor confirmation letters for your tax purposes have been mailed and should be coming to you shortly. Please be aware that there was a change in personnel who handled donation records during the middle of 2015. As the letter states, if your records support a different amount for donations to the Coalition during 2015, contact information is on the letter. If you made a donation but do not receive a letter by Friday January 29th, please contact our acting Treasurer John Saludes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also understand that there might be some people who have moved etc, and just want to let those people know that unless we were contacted and mailing address was updated, we can only send to address that was on the checks or on the electronic donation.
We want to tell everyone again how much we appreciated everyone for contributing to support legal expenses and helping any way that you could to try and stop this destructive project.
January 8, 2016
New is the year, new are the hopes and the aspirations,
New is the resolution, new are the spirits and...every end marks a new beginning. Keep your spirits and determination unshaken as we embark on this new journey.
As we had stated in our last update, the Coalition has determined that we are going to continue with our work to protect open spaces, flood plains and wetlands in Washoe County, particularly in upper south east Reno. We have laid out a preliminary plan to work toward limiting truck traffic on Mira Loma and Pembroke to try and eliminate big rigs using these roads upon completion of this damaging project, find out exactly where the above ground hazardous waste landfills will be located and make sure that they are marked to identify in the event of a future breach in the area, working toward requiring the City of Reno to have a comprehensive plan for the area when a breach occurs, and work toward restricting development around this destructive project in future. These are just a few of our goals going forward.
We have made contact and had meetings with several officials to set these goals on the road to implementation. It won't be easy but we have made that commitment to our stakeholders.
We hope to have more information for you in the next several months. Please check our Events page periodically to check for postings of upcoming Board of Director Meetings!
December 14, 2015
Sorry for the delay on updates. We needed a little time to come to grips with the outcome of our efforts and to hold a Board meeting on what the future holds for our organization.
First though, on Monday November 30th, Granite Construction on behalf of the RTC, cut down the Eagle Tree. It is gone. We wanted to let everyone know that while this had been an expected event, it has hit our communities harder than was anticipated. We appreciate all the emails letting us know of your sorrow, and wanted to let everyone know that we share your devastation.
The Board of Directors has met and discussed our steps forward and have determined that we are going to continue to work to preserve what is left of the flood plain, wetlands and open spaces that surround this awful project. We are also continuing to work on items that are related to the SEC that we hope will be beneficial to our communities.
We are working toward, and have taken preliminary steps to have truck traffic not allowed on Pembroke and Mira Loma; we are working toward and have taken preliminary steps to get all areas where mercury is buried under the road marked so that the public is aware where it is; we are working toward and have taken initial steps to require the City to have an "emergency plan" should there be a breach in the above ground mercury storage areas; we are working toward and will be ready to act to restrict further development in the flood plain, and other items.
We hope to continue to have your support in our efforts to get the steps above implemented.
We wanted to let everyone know that we appreciate the continued emails with your support and we will continue to answer all questions that we can, and to let you know that we are still here and still focused on working for protections of the flood plains, wetlands and open spaces despite recent setbacks.
We will let everyone know when future Board meetings come up and we encourage attendance.
Next - below is an extensive email from Pam Galloway sent to Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus on the issue of sustainable water. This is a very long comment but it is worth the read and might be very informative to anyone who does not know the history of the issue of sustainable water in Washoe County.
Please feel free to forward to anyone concerned about Washoe County water and financial resources
Dear Councilwoman Brekhus (Jenny):
I address this to you as you have long been concerned about water issues, I know you, you are responsive and responsible, you give input due consideration, and you are on the TMWA board, you are a professional planner by trade, and as a Reno City Council member have much input on future growth and development.
I first want to publicly thank you for all the time you have taken in recent years to thoroughly examine so many complex issues, take the time to ask high-quality questions, take the time to explain your thinking. I learn a lot by watching you and appreciate your comprehensive look at concerns. This includes your input at TMWA meetings. You ask many good questions.
I am adding Mark Foree to this email, along with some other TMWA board members. I ask that this be added to the official record of plan input, and be forwarded to all TMWA board members and appropriate staff.
Many other concerned residents are being blind-copied. They are among the 121,555 Voices for a Sustainable Washoe County who in 2008 voted yes on WC-3, tying land-use planning to the known, sustainable water supply. Since that time, as you know, our long-term drought has reached serious levels. Many of the key proponents who worked hard for most of 2008 to pass WC-3 have met several times in recent months to share concerns and discuss where we are today. We want WC-3 honored.
Some of the recommendations below are mine alone, some are from others individually, and some enjoy the support of everyone. You may be interested to know that we are Republicans, Democrats, most over the age of 50, and in our various walks of life what we have in common is that every one of us has spent decades of our lives being involved in governments at the local and state levels. We have long memories and much information about what has occurred around here dating back at least to the 1970s. Our backgrounds and areas of expertise are quite varied, so it makes for interesting discussion. I am a print news journalist by trade and not a water expert but have been a student of water for many years. I am better versed in South Truckee Meadows issues than other areas so use this area to make significant points, not to pick on one area. These anecdotes could be coming to other areas near you if people are not attentive. We are borrowing from Peter to pay Paul throughout the land. If groundwater tables continue to drop, more existing residents will need the river.
The list of issues and concerns outlined herein is rather lengthy, but not all-inclusive and definitive or it would become unwieldy. This involves recommending input for TMWA's future plan document, and to the cities of Reno and Sparks especially. (Please note that attached to the bottom of this email is the first in a four-part series being published by USA Today, describing how the nation's ground waters are being depleted rapidly. I add this as I recall someone stating that this is TMWA's concern, too, in our region. As you know, water tables have been dropping significantly around here for some years, such as along north and south sides of Mt. Rose Highway.)
If we were limited to only one recommendation, besides enacting WC-3, it would be that we want cost/benefit analyses affixed to all water infrastructure and other public services going forward. I would add that we want all water rights listed, too. For instance, running a pipeline from the Mt. Rose Highway up high from wells in an area known to have dropping groundwater tables to the south to benefit Sierra Reflections would be prime for a cost/benefit analysis. It is not sufficient to say "future hookups" would pay for this. There are, according to a TMRPA point-and-click map, some 943 homes planned in Sierra Reflections, and they would also need to pay for gas and sewer lines. So who else would be hooked up to this? How much would the future development pay? Would creek and groundwater rights be used for this? What is their perennial yield? Do the creeks ever dry out in the summer? What about downstream holders of the rights? What rights did Sierra Reflections buy, for how much?
(Two more anecdotes: This morning I received a phone call from Las Vegas, directing me to an LVRJ article about next week's special legislative session for Faraday, the Apex electric car company proposal. Previously, it was reported that Faraday wanted taxpayers to foot the bill for $150 million for water lines. This morning's article says no, it will initially pump groundwater. Next, I received an email saying that the Tahoe-Region Industrial Center (TRIC)'s requested need for a $35 million pipeline to ship our gray water to Storey County has fallen into a "Sparks black hole". I have no idea what this means, but these are excellent examples of reported proposals that could put the costs for water lines on the backs of existing residents and ratepayers. We do not want to finance any such pipelines. Developers need to foot the bills for their infrastructure and not keep looking to our state and local coffers. Look what has happened to Reno's financial condition after prior officials ran up all the credit cards for the specially interested. We don't want that.
(Digressing again, while EDAWN has the megaphone hyping that we need to get ready for 50,000 jobs coming here within the next five years, EDAWN needs to also list all existing debt and what will be needed to pay for the associated schools, roads, fire, police, courts, etc. Reno came to the verge of bankrupt status, and it will take decades to pay off existing debt and unfunded liabilities incurred by your predecessors. Some in our WC-3 group asked why we would "soil our own nest" with more debts, more unfunded liabilities, and 741,000 people destroying our quality of life. It is a legitimate question. We are not anti-growth, we are for sustainable growth linked to the water supply. You can quickly come up with $2 billion needed for existing non-water needs, and by adding debt and other needs such as higher education I can easily push that number to $3 billion for local needs, not counting growth. If I did a deeper survey even the $3 billion might be low.) Growth does not pay for itself.
If we had two priorities to offer, our second is that we advocate for "good numbers" -- transparent, accountable, good numbers. For instance, I read in USA Today (see below) that Congress authorized the USGS years ago to check perennial yields in the Midwest. We would urge TMWA, while Harry Reid is still in office, to seek federal funds immediately to examine and update our perennial yields.
Background: Our numbers are outdated in some cases. We are told by water experts that some yields included in the draft TMWA plan may be overly optimistic. Are some tied to mineralized water? Some groundwater rights are linked to wellheads in the former STMGID that were shut down long ago. The rights are parked there because there is no place to put them. As water rights expert Vahid told me long ago, if it is not parked on some wellhead, it goes away. The state water engineer does not consider it viable.
Anecdote: A casino long ago planned for the SE corner of Geiger Grade/S. Virginia Street intersection had some 400-plus acre feet of water rights, and these were parked on a poisonous mineralized well in the Kohl's parking lot which has only recently been shut down. Now the casino has been moved to the SW corner of the intersection (Station, and I have serious questions about whether this is even financially viable anymore) but it has no water rights situated on a viable well. So what to do? Send river? (This originally was approved by BCC only with promises it would be a very low-profile western-themed gaming facility like the Pondera Ranch with pony rides for the kids, not some humungous hotel/casino as John Frankovich keeps describing to you at Reno City Council meetings to justify digital signs and brightness everywhere. But I digress.)
I know for a fact the plan includes exaggerated ground water rights. Or it might have rights that are good terms of solid numbers but are too remote to access. For instance, who would run a pipeline to Bedell Flat to access 60 AF yearly (if that is still a good number)? This is north of Lemmon Valley, in between Red Rock and Warm Springs. This could be for 60 homes with landscape, 120 homes (no landscaping) housing how many people that are now added to your population projections? At what cost to access? You see the problem. One number added impacts all other numbers, leaving residents to think there is no problem supplying water to almost three-quarters of a million people. No. This is not responsible.
I give a shout out to Neoma Jardon for suggesting to TMWA that it consider developing some more worst case drought scenarios -- "variables". Jim Smitherman did state that the numbers do not consider worst case scenarios. I am assuming too, based upon plan wording, that all waters listed are drinkable, and not highly mineralized. One water attorney tried for years to get the county to buy waters to the north that are mineralized. We have and would continue to vehemently oppose this. So we want the "good numbers" to mean drinkable, sustainable water. We would not favor importation projects taking waters from outlying areas. We would not want to count farmland acre feet when it is unknown whether or not a farmer in the future would be willing to convert his land and sell out the affixed water rights. For instance, if I were a farmer in Fallon and I sold my land, it would be to a developer wanting to build a subdivision, not someone in Washoe County taking the water rights and making the land useless.
Anecdote on meaningful, realistic numbers: In 2008, we all agreed that there was enough water (max) to serve a population of 620,000. We of WC-3 were gracious and generous agreeing with this number, not wanting to pick fights with developers or governments over numbers so we chose the high number offered by experts. That said, I want to share that a well-respected water expert sent me an email in 2007 stating this: We really only have enough water for 550,000 total buildout population, the expert stated, but we could get to 620,000 if we took all the water up to the Oregon border, including drying out all the recreation areas, and we took some water rights from the Lake Lahontan area. (As you can see, TMWA's and WRWC's verbiage with a population total of 741,000 becomes questionable and is perceived by experts as overly optimistic, with exaggerated perennial yields. We urge TMWA and WRWC to go back to the drawing board on these numbers.)
These are just a few examples. Some of these numbers need to be revisited.
In sum, we want good, accountable, transparent numbers and explanations now on all sustainable water of drinking quality, taking into account the possibility of long-term drought.
Water experts opine that this notion of a population buildout number of 741,000 served by 183,000+ AF (Western Regional Water Commission) might be exaggerated and does not plan for contingencies. One of my biggest points is that we may have thousands upon thousands of people already here who are on groundwater systems and might clamor to be placed on the river system if the groundwater tables continue to drop. This has already happened in the case of the former South Truckee Meadows General Improvement District (STMGID). Despite the ongoing protests of many citizens for years, too much new development was placed on municipal wells along the Mt. Rose fan, so those who formed the system and paid for it for 40 years were transferred to the river to make way for more development. We cautioned it was not sustainable. We formed a years-long citizens' advisory group working with the county. (I chaired it.) We accomplished much, de-annexed territory to be sustainable, accounted for every drop of water, added more meters and pumps, included future infill, and spent several thousand hours developing a sustainable plan. The final CEO who came in to run DWR ignored all of this. More and more development was put in STMGID or on county municipal wells that should have been placed in TMWA on the river. Unfortunately I was commuting to Washington D.C. for years to care for an elderly grandma and could no longer watchdog STMGID. Of course it is now lost. In recent times neighbors begged me repeatedly to rise up and fight again but I said no, send me the river now. I no longer trust the municipal wells. I know you all are Republicans, I said, but we are in the midst of climate change. One called me late at night and whispered into the phone that he believed me but don't tell anyone because he is a Republican. Humor is important.
We of STMGID are the poster child for what happens when development occurs almost mindlessly without regard to proper planning. What saved us was the river. For others, should this zealous overdevelopment occur, the river might not be nearby and accessible. I recommend, therefore, that the TMWA plan factor in the possibility that all those on these municipal groundwater systems relying on wells could one day need the river instead. This is in keeping with TMWA board discussions and Ms. Jardon's comments.
Subtract all these people from the future population projections as they are already here.
Giving some kudos, I want to publicly acknowledge your tougher public questioning, Jenny, including the costs of this pipeline in the south, Neoma Jardon's request that variable levels of drought scenarios be included in the plan, and Naomi Duerr's shout out for protecting and increasing the tree canopy of the Truckee Meadows. Those of us who paid (in some cases dearly) for water rights affixed to properties need assurances (and the plan does this) that any savings we derive will go to the reservoirs. Many people are skeptical about this, thinking it will be used for new growth. Already it is rumored that the TRIC is on the hunt for water rights to be pumped up into its Storey County industrial center (not gray water but river).
We want WC-3 enacted. Obviously this 56,000+ "approved but unbuilt" number of housing units in Reno is not a good number anymore and I do note regional planners are trying to get their arms around some of this, such as future commercial development. Regional planners need to focus on water more. Reno and Sparks planners, representing about 75% total of the future development, could alter their plans to place "good water rights" alongside development approvals as they occurring. These two should not be considered separately. For instance, when a development project comes to the table, every single developer needs to be asked how many water rights will be needed, what type, what is the source of the type (not Dry Creek Gulch), and is there the promise from TMWA to deliver. If this involves pipelines, is the developer prepared to pay 100% of these costs? What hookup fees will be charged, and to whom? Creeks and streams that dry up in the summertime need to take that into account.
I have quipped that in the Watergate years we used to say, "Follow the money." Now we need to say, "...and the pipelines".
I offer this up because TMWA says it does not get into the development matters, it just issues "will serve" for whatever is in your TMSAs (service areas). Therefore, Reno especially might consider going back to the drawing board and examining all these TMSAs and how much water it would take to serve. Ditto Sparks and county future development. Our elected representatives need to be at the forefront representing the existing taxpayers and ratepayers who do not want to pay the costs of the infrastructure for future development. As occurs in many other places, future development needs to pay for itself. Our budgets are stretched thin, governmental entities have taken on much debt, our property taxes are capped, there is not much other revenue available unless we keep being asked to bond more. Obviously Reno cannot take on more debt, and I would not support the county doing it either. Kudos to Washoe County Manager John Slaughter and others for lowering the county's debt.
Newspaper ads and agenda containing information about bonds being approved need to spell out the amount, what it is to be used for, the percentage rate, total payout costs, etc. These are often worded more vaguely and the reader is clueless about what is being purchased. (Take today's classifieds, for instance.)
Summarizing the highlights, we the Voices for a Sustainable Washoe County who drove WC-3 to a major victory (more than 73% voting in the affirmative), offer these recommendations:
Open, transparent, comprehensive cost/benefit analyses on all projects.
Obtain the services of the USGS, if necessary, to update perennial yield numbers. If not, budget to do this anyway. If we know water rights are sitting on a dead wellhead, delete them. Be honest.
Numbers need to include only what is drinkable, accessible water, and not "maybe in the future". The impression exists that future plans reach to obtain the highest population figures possible to 2035, rather than what is reasonable. We want to preserve our quality of life and not resemble Hesperia, CA. We need to factor in dropping water tables, climate change, global warming, long-term drought, or whatever you want to call "it" that we are experiencing.
Numbers need to subtract any waters involving expensive and/or unethical importation projects. I already have firsthand knowledge about what happens when you try to clean up highly mineralized water. It does not work. We spent at least $1 million, maybe $2 million, trying that in STMGID and it failed. Extracting all the costs became impossible. You can clean up arsenic but not other minerals tied to geothermal. It is hopeless, trust me on this. We are not paying for any more of these cleanup experiments with geothermal. If it worked, there would be ample water everywhere.
Update all "approved but unbuilt" and other planning information so TMWA and TMRPA can plan better. The regional entities only reflect what is being approved at the local level.Reno especially should consider revisiting all its future service areas (FSA) as there are some that are downright scary to contemplate. For instance, anecdotally, lands to the east of Damonte High School up into the Virginia Highlands have no water and the developer does not have the money for any infrastructure. Developers like this cannot ask us to build another Geiger Grade and haul water, sewer, electric, gas, and public services up 6,400 feet into wildlands filled with herds of horses. I don't want to seem a NIMBY, but I am writing only about what I know. Some of these lands are islands, disconnected, and so steep you cannot walk up or down the slopes. Think in terms of the Geiger Grade lookout.
Anecdote #2: How much water can Vidler really deliver? Years ago I added up all the development planned in the North Valleys plus Spring Mountain, in which developers said they were going to use Vidler pipeline water from Fish Springs in the Honey Lake area. The numbers far exceeded the 8,000 AF estimated yield. I totaled all this, sent it to two water experts, and one responded that I was asking very good questions and needed to get answers. I am asking now for the answers. Reno might want to revisit Spring Mountain, for instance, and ask this (Winnemucca Ranch) owner not to count on Reno to supply all the public services for an area 25-30 miles away. This is too far away, too remote, not contiguous, without sufficient water for 12,000 homes. This developer needs to be told he needs to build his own separate town with its own public services. I recommend strongly that you eliminate this from your TMWA or it will sink Reno. Already services such as police and fire are stretched thin over an ever-expanding land mass. I figure 12,000 homes equals at least 24,000 people plus people travelling there to work in gas stations, health clinics, etc. I view it as a small town of 30,000. Not only does Reno need to protect existing property tax payers from this, county and Sparks residents need to be protected from this kind of sprawl draining resources. What experts have told me repeatedly over the years is they fear disjointed, leap frog, disconnected, discontiguous development because the costs of the pipelines alone will bury us in massive debt. I speak out for those in government, or with families in government, or consultants, who do not feel comfortable speaking out for obvious reasons.
(Sidebar: It is my understanding, too, that while Vidler did turn all this over to the county, it will not allow waters other than its own to be put in its pipeline. This could be perhaps to protect it from mineralized waters, or just to be self-interested, I don't know. So if anyone did rely on other waters in the North Valleys, it would have to be placed in another pipeline if this is correct.)
Improve the quality of the information reported to taxpayers. Agenda items need to include more detailed information when millions of dollars' worth of bonds are being issued.
Some citizens feel that TMWA's call for a 10% reduction did not go far enough. I do give a shout out, too, to David Bobzien for calling attention to this. He is a conservation policy expert and was criticized by some TMWA board fellows for opining that TMWA did not go far enough. He had every right to say publicly what many were saying privately. My friends were asking on Day #1 why not 20%? So kudos to David, who has now formed a separate citizens' climate action initiative in Reno. That said, I thought TMWA handled this pretty well, it was well-publicized, the citizens did respond. For those not in TMWA I was impressed that I received a notice after a few months telling me about my usage, commending me for cutting back above the 10%. etc. I commend TMWA, too, for developing a master plan, and making the effort to seek so much community input. It is a good start. The 10% might not have been enough, maybe we all dodged a bullet, but now we know we can at the very least do that. Hopefully El Nino will save us but that is not a good long-term strategy.
Beyond just the water, I think it fair to say we all are concerned about our quality of life here. Everyone wants economic development and jobs, but it needs to be tempered with our limited financial and water resources. We all cherish our natural surroundings, our independent spirits. One consultant came here years ago and addressed public officials, planners, staff. In some government TV program he cautioned the audience not to "kill your golden goose". What we have here is special. We need to guard it by growing sustainably, not greedily.
And Jenny, I give you another shout out for standing up against more billboards, glaring signage, and digital, turning us into more carnival atmosphere in Reno. You have boldly led the charge even though it has cost you politically. This is what I mean about quality of life. And among those who support you and Scenic Nevada in this are many conservative, Republican pro-business types. No one wants our area visually trashed or our limited resources spent unwisely, regardless of political persuasions. Everyone who pushed for more signs and digital talked about money. They did not talk about visual impacts and quality of life, or people being blinded and put in harm's way. So I thank you for standing up for everyone. That is yet another ballot measure in which residents said no to more billboards and elected officials ignored it. Thousands of Reno residents signed a petition opposing a casino on the Mt. Rose Highway and the former mayor and council ignored that, too. The former mayor said, "Those people don't count." Voters said no to the train trench costs which have buried Reno in debt and that too was ignored. Then governments turn around and ask for community input. What?
Hopefully WC-3 won't be ignored. That is my community input (for now). With warm regards, and thanks for your serious consideration of the contents herein,Pamela E. GallowayVoices for a Sustainable Washoe CountyVirginia Foothills
USA TODAY 12/11/15
PUMPED DRYTHE GLOBAL CRISIS OF VANISHING GROUNDWATEROUR WATER IS RUNNING OUTMANY U.S. AQUIFERS IN DECLINE
Ian James and Steve Reilly SUBLETTE, KANSAS Just before 3 a.m., Jay Garetson’s phone buzzed on the bedside table. He picked it up and read the text: “Low Pressure Alert.” He felt a jolt of stress, and his chest tightened. He dreaded what that automated message probably meant: As the water table dropped, another well on his family’s farm was starting to suck air.The Garetson family has farmed in the plains of southwestern Kansas for four generations, since 1902. Now they face a hard reality. The groundwater they depend on is disappearing. Their fields could wither. Their farm might not survive for the next generation.At dawn, Garetson was out among the cornfields at the well, trying to diagnose the problem. The pump hummed as it lifted water from nearly 600 feet underground. He turned a valve and let the cool water run into his cupped hands. Just as he feared, he saw fine bubbles in the water.“It’s showing signs of weakening,” he said. “It’s just a question of how much time is left.”The High Plains Aquifer, which lies beneath eight states from South Dakota to Texas, is the lifeblood of one of the world’s most productive farming economies. In areas where aquifers are being severely depleted, new wells are being drilled hundreds of feet into the earth at enormous cost.Jay Garetson looks into a cornfield next to a pump on his family’s farm in Kansas. He said contemplating the challenges ahead “leaves you gasping for air.”
The aquifer, also known as the Ogallala, makes possible a large share of the country ’s output of corn, wheat and cattle. But its levels have been rapidly declining, and with each passing year, more wells are going dry.The severe depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer is symptomatic of a larger crisis in the USA and many parts of the world. Much more water is pumped from the ground than can be naturally replenished. Groundwater levels are plummeting. It’s happening not only in the High Plains and drought-ravaged California but also in places from the Gulf Coastal Plain to the farmland of the Mississippi River Valley, and from the dry Southwest to the green Southeast.
NOT JUST CALIFORNIA
In a nationwide examination, USA TODAY and The Desert Sun analyzed two decades of measurements from more than 32,000 wells and found water levels falling in nearly two-thirds of those wells. Heavy pumping caused major declines in many areas. The analysis of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data reveals that:u Nationwide, water levels have declined in 64% of the wells included in the government database during the past two decades.u The average decline among decreasing wells has been more than 10 feet, and in some areas, the water table has dropped more than 100 feet during that period.u For 13 counties in Texas, New Mexico, Mississippi, Kansas and Iowa, average water levels fell more than 40 feet since 1995.u Nationally, the average declines have been larger from 2011-2014 as drought has intensified in the West. But water tables have been falling consistently over the years through both wet and dry periods and also in relatively wet states such as Florida and Maryland.u Across the High Plains, one of the country ’s largest depletion zones, the average water levels in more than 4,000 wells are 13.2 feet lower today than they were in 1995. In the southern High Plains, water levels have plunged significantly more — in places more than 100 feet in 20 years.
Aquifers are being drawn down in many areas by pumping for agriculture, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of the nation’s use of fresh groundwater. Water is also being drained for cities, expanding development and industries. Across much of the country, over-pumping has become a widespread habit. While the symptoms have long remained invisible to most people, the problem is analog ous to gradually squandering the balance of a collective bank account. As the balance drops, there’s less to draw on when it’s needed.Falling groundwater levels bring increasing costs for well owners, water utilities and society. As water levels drop, more energy is required to lift water from wells, and pumping bills are rising. Where aquifers are severely depleted, new wells are being drilled hundreds of feet into the earth at enormous cost.
That trend of going deeper can go on only so long. In particularly hard-hit communities in California’s Central Valley, homeowners have been left relying on tanker trucks to deliver water. So much has been pumped from parts of California that the ground has been sinking, causing major damage to roads, bridges and canals. As sections of some U.S. aquifers collapse, their capacity to hold water is permanently reduced.Since the beginning of the 20th century, the USA has lost more than 1,000 cubic kilometers of water from its aquifers — about 28 times the amount of water in Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir.That estimate of water losses from 1900 through 2008, calculated by USGS scientist Leonard Konikow, shows the High Plains has accounted for 35% of the country’s total depletion.The declines in groundwater in the USA mirror decreases in many parts of the world.NASA satellites have allowed scientists to map the changes underground on a global scale for the first time, putting into stark relief a dramatic drawdown.
The latest satellite data, together with measurements of water levels in wells, reveal widespread declines from North Africa to India.“Groundwater depletion is this incredible global phenomenon,” said Jay Famiglietti, a professor of earth system science at the University of California-Irvine and senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We never really understood it the way we understand it now. It’s pervasive, and it’s happening at a rapid clip.”
BEYOND NATURAL LIMITS
The USA is one of the largest users of groundwater in the world. The federal government estimates the country used 76 billion gallons of fresh groundwater per day in 2010. That’s 117,000 cubic feet per second, roughly comparable to Niagara Falls.In many regions, government agencies and water districts have studied the problem but haven’t taken sufficient steps to manage aquifers or prevent declines.
Alongside climate change, groundwater depletion has become another human-caused crisis that could bring devastating consequences. As aquifers are pushed far beyond natural limits, water scarcity batters farms, undermines economies and intensifies disputes over water.In parts of the southern High Plains, farmers are feeling the effects. Some counties have seen small decreases in population as people have moved away. Local leaders express concerns about what sorts of businesses can help sustain their economies as water supplies dwindle.In Haskell County, Kan., windswept fields of sorghum and corn stretch to the flat horizon in a swaying sea. The huge farms, many in the thousands of acres, still appear lush and productive. But driving along the country roads, Garetson points out spots where wells have gone dry — on his family land and other farms.All that’s left at one decommissioned well is a round metal cover on a concrete slab. Opening the well’s lid, Garetson dropped in a rock. It pinged off the steel casing. More than five seconds later, there was faint splash.“Now the only water it finds is a couple, 3 feet at the very bottom of the well that the pumps can’t effectively access anymore,” Garetson said.He and his brother, Jarvis, drilled this well in the early 2000s when a shallower well failed. It lasted less than a decade. It went dry in 2012, forcing them to drill again — this time 600 feet deep, down to the bedrock at the bottom of the aquifer. It’s hard to say how long that well might last.“Very simply, we’re running out, and it’s happening far faster than anybody anticipated,” he said. “And as optimistic as I’d like to be about the future, the window for that optimism is closing very quickly.”
Over the past five years, the pumping capacity of the Garetsons’ wells decreased about 30% as the water table has fallen. They’ve been forced to plant less corn and instead more wheat and sorghum, which use less water and bring in smaller earnings.When Garetson’s grandparents drilled wells in the mid-20th century, they were told the water supply was inexhaustible. They had clung to their land through the hardships of the Dust Bowl, when blowing drifts of soil and grit decimated crops and sent many others packing. In the decades that followed, they built a successful business on water pumped from the ground.
POCKETS OF DEPLETION
Since then, numerous studies have shown that the status quo is far from sustainable. Starting in 1986, Congress directed the USGS to monitor and report on changes in the levels of the Ogallala Aquifer, recognizing its economic importance. About 30% of the groundwater used for irrigation in the country is pumped from the aquifer.Groundwater levels have changed relatively little in some wetter areas as rain and snowmelt offset the amounts pumped out. But even pockets of the Northeast and upper Midwest experienced serious declines. Average water levels in Cumberland County, N.J., decreased nearly 6 feet over the past two decades. In Outagamie County, Wis., there was a decline of 6.1 feet.
Elsewhere, there has been significant depletion across entire regions, largely driven by agriculture. Average water levels fell by 5.7 feet across the Mississippi River Valley aquifer system, by 12.6 feet in the Columbia Plateau basaltic rock aquifers of the Pacific Northwest and by 17.8 feet in some of the Snake River Plain’s aquifers of southern Idaho.Saltwater has been seeping into declining aquifers along the Atlantic coast in places such as Hilton Head, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., and beneath coastal Florida cities such as Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa. When saltwater intrusion taints drinking water, it can force water districts to use different wells or invest in costly solutions such as desalination.There have also been long term declines in groundwater levels around urban areas including Chicago, Milwaukee, Memphis, and Houston. Large rice farms in the Mississippi River Valley depend heavily on water pumped from wells. So do fields of cotton, soybeans and corn across parts of Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri. Farms draw out significantly more than is naturally replenished, and the valley’s alluvial aquifer system is declining.Arkansas, the country’s top rice-producing state, is updating its water plan with proposals to cope with a growing “groundwater gap” in the eastern portion of the state. Officials recommend building infrastructure to make surface water the primary irrigation source for areas that depend on declining groundwater.Regulatory changes aimed at addressing strains on groundwater are being debated elsewhere, in wet regions as well as dry.
In Arizona, lawmakers are under pressure to consider groundwater regulations for some of the same rural areas that fought off restrictions about 35 years ago. Some farmers and residents in southeastern Arizona worry about unregulated pumping and are pushing to limit the expansion of irrigated farmlands and to charge fees for groundwater use.In each state, groundwater use falls under different laws. In many areas, agencies charged with managing water have allowed aquifers to fall into a state of perpetual overdraft while water levels recede by the year. Even where regulations exist, pumping often remains largely unchecked.“Like your bank account, you can’t keep depleting it forever. That’s a non-sustainable condition,” USGS scientist Konikow said. “Society will have to do something about it.”
“Very simply, we’re running out, and it’s happening far faster than anybody anticipated.”Jay Garetson
November 16, 2015
This update is to let everyone know that a critical supporter of the Coalition is asking for help to defeat a very significant change in city ordinances and we are asking for all of you to send a message to the City to fight the blight of on premises digital signs. Imagine a large digital sign at the Mira Loma Shopping center or the Quickie Mart at the corner of McCarran and Rock or the Fed-Ex, or the future possibility of digital signs on the SEC?
Please take a few moments to read the update below from Scenic Nevada and send comments to the City Clerk, whose contact information is included. Please support the efforts of Scenic Nevada on our behalf. Also, please consider forwarding to your friends and neighbors in Reno to ask them to oppose the proposed "new" ordinance and to support the September Planning Commission's recommendations.
What: Reno City Council Meeting
Where: Reno City Hall, 1 E. First Street
When: Wednesday, November 18, Starting at 1 p.m.
City Council Tosses Digital Regulations
In a surprise move the city council recently agreed to dump all of the proposed community-driven digital sign regulations in favor of new ones that perpetuates existing video, scrolling and flashing signs 24/7 and would allow new ones to pop up throughout the city. The new draft digital sign regulations will be reviewed Wednesday in a public hearing.
Let the Reno City Council know your concerns. Email email@example.com or call 775-334-2030. The clerk's office forwards all emails and phone messages to the Council. Or come to the public hearing at city hall.
With little discussion of the far stronger regulations presented in the Nov. 4 draft, Mayor Hillary Schieve and Councilman Oscar Delgado astonished the room with an entirely new draft that obviously had been written prior to the noticed public hearing. See the new draft, click here. Scroll down to item F.3 at page 230.
Business Desires Trump Community Concerns
The unexpected move was made after dozens of auto dealers, resort, casino and sign industry representatives asked the council not to approve the planning commission recommendations that were painstakingly made during a five hour public hearing in September.
Those recommendations were based on input from the community and planning staff during public workshops and after a city survey of 266 respondents, showing 44% opposed digitals; 41% in favor; and about 15% uncertain.
Schieve and Delgado said their draft is meant to allow business to keep existing digital signs and to allow others to get new ones, while protecting aesthetics. But the sparse “protections” do little to minimize the negative impacts of digital signs. The requests that make up the new draft include:
- No changes in location. Digital signs will continue to be allowed everywhere within the city limits they are now, including the main thoroughfares like South Virginia, North Virginia, Fourth street, Mill Street, and the commercial parts of Plumb Lane and Kietzke Lane and in Midtown.
- No changes on what’s displayed. Video, flashing, scrolling, and all animation will continue to be allowed, day and night, 24/7.
- No public hearings for most digital signs, which oftentimes impact private property for miles. Only those proposed within 300 feet of a residentially zoned parcel must get a special use permit which requires a public hearing first.
- Abnormally high brightness levels at night; if approved the brightness levels are about five times brighter than what the sign industry requested and 15 times brighter than Scenic Nevada’s recommendation.
- No immediate relief from overly bright signs. Owners of existing digital signs that exceed even this liberal standard have two years to comply, which means no brightness changes required for the Wild Orchid sign and those for auto dealerships and casinos until December 2017.
- No substantial protections for Reno’s scenic vistas. Like the planning commission’s draft, the new council draft prohibits flashing animated signs within 300 feet of certain major highways, like Mount Rose Highway and a portion of Interstate 580, south of McCarran Boulevard. Large animated signs can easily escape this restriction, flashing changing images towards drivers day and night and blocking scenic views. For example, The Summit Sierra Mall digital sign would have been 350 feet from I-580, if it had been approved. Over 400 people signed Scenic Nevada’s petition opposing that sign and the city council unanimously denied the request.
No Time For Public Scrutiny
The council approved moving the new regulations forward in a 6 to 1 vote, with Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus opposed. She said the new proposed rules affected her ward the most and may not be in compliance with the city’s Master Plan, which says signs should match the architectural style and design of buildings. In Midtown, where the architecture is primarily mid-20 century brick buildings, digital signs wouldn’t match.
She and Councilwoman Naomi Duerr suggested the council get more feedback from the planning commission or from the community in public workshops. But the council voted to bring the new draft back for a “first reading” Wednesday. The final vote could take place two weeks later on December 2.
With the exception of casinos, Scenic Nevada requested that digital signs be prohibited. But, if the city continues to allow them, we had asked for far more restrictions to limit the honky-tonk and circus-like appearance from taking over commercial areas outside of downtown.
Many in the community have objected to various digital signs, which are allowed under current codes and have been multiplying in the past few years. Digital signs are far more intrusive and a nuisance that could lower nearby property values.
The Reno City Council in January agreed to a moratorium, which temporarily halts permits, and gave us hope that new regulations would be developed to protect driver safety, property values and scenic views. The moratorium expires at the end of this month.
In a separate public hearing also on November 4, the city council in a 5-2 vote denied the SouthTowne shopping center request for a 61-foot-tall sign that would be 628 square feet; almost as big as a roadside billboard. It was proposed along Interstate 580 in south Reno. Mayor Schieve and Councilwoman Naoma Jardon voted to allow the sign.
The shopping center was asking for a variance and a special use permit to build a giant sign near the Damonte Ranch Parkway exit. The center requested almost double the allowed height and more than double the size, so the sign could be viewed from an elevated section of Interstate 580.
Both city staff and the city's planning commission recommended denial of the variance in June and SouthTowne appealed that decision. The city council upheld denial of the permits largely because the sign was incompatible with the surrounding area and there were no hardships, which are required to grant the variance permit.
November 6, 2015
Letting everyone know that the City of Reno is working to get the Coalition a copy of the Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR). This will be an extensive file and will include many maps. We are getting it on CD and we will have copies of this available for $5.00 (sorry can't do for free but we have costs) for anyone who would like one. Please contact the Coalition if you would like a copy of that CD for your records.
In the RGJ online (and should be in the print paper today) is an op-ed from the Coalition Chair with a synopsis of our view of the permit process. Please check out online at
Please feel free to visit and make comments as those that are commenting now know nothing of the dangers of this project. We would appreciate your support! Also feel free to write your own letter to the editor for the print paper voicing your feelings on what has happened.
The Coalition is having a regular Board Meeting on November 11 th at 5:30 pm at a location to be determined. Please check out our events page on the website, scroll down the left side of the "events" page for our meeting list and we should have a location printed soon for those who would like to come. We are discussing things to include, what's next.
On a more personal note, the Coalition wants to thank, from the bottom of our hearts, those who have written personal notes to us thanking us for our efforts in trying to stop this dangerous and destructive project. You all have been so kind and more than once have touched us emotionally. Your words have been so supportive and understanding. Thank you.
November 2, 2015
The Coalition regrets to inform all our valuable stakeholders and supporters that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the ruling by the District Court, which means that they agree with the District Court that there should be no Preliminary Injunction, and that we would not prevail at a hearing on the Merits.
The Coalition had been hopeful but it seems that we were not successful in protecting the unique and fragile environment of upper south east Reno, and that this area will have to live with the consequences of this extremely destructive and
extremely dangerous project. Not just to the people, but also to the wildlife.
We can't tell everyone how much your support and encouragement has meant to all of us over the years. We worked hard on your behalf to try and get someone to listen to our concerns, but it seems that no one wanted to hear.
We are so very sorry for this outcome.
October 27, 2015
The Coalition was informed this morning that FEMA has released the Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) that was the final hurdle from the City of Reno required before construction could begin south of Pembroke.
This means that RTC can now start destroying all floodplains, wetlands, streams and flood storage areas in the entire project site from Pembroke to South Meadows Parkway.
Our requests to FEMA to be involved in the process (the CLOMR) was denied, and our requests to the City of Reno to be able to view and make comments on this process (the CLOMR) was denied. The most singularly impacted residential communities from flooding in the entire region had not one allowed comment on the entire CLOMR application, yet the City of Reno helped RTC with anything they needed to complete the application to FEMA.
The Coalition understands the frustration that is surfacing on the lack of help or support from our City Officials or city staff and from our County officials and county staff. We understand the belief that while we fund-raise to try and save our environment, we are also funding through our taxes the work of the City of Reno and the County to thwart our efforts to protect our environment by providing unlimited help and access to RTC, all the while funding RTC through gas taxes to build this project and fight our legal efforts to stop it. Please know that we are hearing your voices and wholeheartedly concur.
Elections are coming and everyone has a vote.
There still has been no word from the 9th Circuit on our request for a preliminary injunction. The Coalition has been contacted many times to get information on this, and we just can't give any. We can't tell or speculate on how this is going. We are waiting to hear what the 9th Circuit decides. Meanwhile RTC continues it's destruction at will.
We will inform everyone the minute we hear anything.
October 19, 2015
Today was our hearing at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and as stated in previous updates as something that could happen, the court did not make a decision today.
Our legal team did an excellent job of presenting the case that the District Court Judge misinterpreted the law when denying our request for a preliminary injunction on June 3rd.
The Coalition was unaware that the 9th Circuit streamed their hearings live and did not know to inform you, so we are attaching a link for you to view the proceedings yourself on youtube:
Skip to 1:36.45 to view the Coalition legal team presenting our case.
None of the cases heard today received resolution on the spot. If the Court tended to agree with us, there could be a ruling within a few days. If they do not agree with us, then it could take longer. We want to give you the process of what could happen now.
- The 9th Circuit could not agree with us at all and then our next option would be the Merits Hearing in about 6 months with the same District Court Judge that denied us the preliminary injunction on June 3rd. Meanwhile construction continues.
- The 9th Circuit could agree with us, but send the case back to the District Court for that judge to revisit his ruling with a "technical" slap on the wrist. If this were to happen then we would have a very short time frame before we were back at District to have the judge review. If he then agrees with what we present, he could issue the preliminary injunction that will stop construction until the Merits Hearing.
- The 9th Circuit could agree with us, and issue the preliminary injunction themselves and then construction would have to stop until we get to our Merits Hearing at District Court.
So now everyone waits until the 9th Circuit issues their decision. RTC can continue work as we all wait. Of course we will let everyone know as soon as we know. Just a reminder, as soon as the CLOMR is released, RTC can begin construction-destruction in the Rosewood Lakes Golf Course
Meanwhile, we wanted to point out to everyone the story in Sundays paper on the SEC where RTC states that construction at this time is employing 50 people and if they prevail, they will be able to ramp up to 150 people. We were wondering if you all remember like we do, RTC claiming from just after the time of the economic crash (about 2009) to the Reno City Council and others, that this project would create thousands of jobs. Councilman Dortch mentioned it over and over again when RTC was seeking City approvals.
Well, well, well. Imagine that.
October 14, 2015
The Coalition has found out that the maps that were released last week, WERE portions of the CLOMR that was required by the City of Reno before construction could begin in Reno (which starts just south of Pembroke in the Rosewood Lakes Golf Course). WE ARE BEING TOLD that the CLOMR's offical release could be this week so that means as soon as it is finalized RTC could have Granite begin work in the Rosewood Lakes Golf Course.
We had a meeting late last week with Joe Coudriet of the City of Reno to try and get an explanation of what was going on with the CLOMR and here is a synopsis of what happened:
We felt like we were at a very nice, and polite, and trying to be helpful, shell game. We would ask specific questions and get one of the following responses.....I am not sure what that is; let me show you on this map (which he would then proceed to show several maps and give convoluted explanations to what was being shown); or, that is not what I understood so I will have to get back to you on that, or, where did you get that information?.
He showed more than several different maps that had all kinds of cross hatching that he said were in layers and then would proceed to try and tell our representative what the layers meant, then half way through on some of these he would say " WAIT, I have a better map!" or "WAIT, let me show you on this other map!"
The only thing that he seemed very clear on, is that there is no one going to be put into the "Flood Plain" (despite the email and list we got from Kerri Lanza, which he said he did not know what that was) but there were some properties going into the "Floodway" however they were only 3 parcels on the Butler Ranch North and one BLM parcel that he said RTC would have to buy due to the increases in flood elevations (If he was understood correctly). When we tried to get specific information on what exactly was studied by the FEMA contractor, he would say that it was the project area, but was unclear if that included Phase 1. Additionally, he can't give us the CLOMR yet (which was a binder of about 8 inches thick) because technically the CLOMR has not been released. He also showed the Coalition a CLOMR from 2008 (binder about 4 inches) for the South Meadows area, but did not know if that included the Damonte Ranch area which is further upstream. He said the 2008 CLOMR indicates that there are no increases in the surface water elevations in that area (which is just at South Meadows Parkway, the southern terminus of the SEC) and in fact there are supposed to be decreases. HOWEVER, he did show the Coalitio on one of his famous maps, notes he had written that showed the decreases in the South Meadows area, but the further north you go the more the flood surface water increases until when you get to the Truckee it is quite a significant increase.
He was also informed about the Master Plan Amendment from the 1990's that abandoned the road that was still in effect and that we have a letter from the developer's attorney telling the developer that they can now begin to tell people that the road will never be built so they can purchase their homes with good conscience, and he said he had been told that everyone in Rosewood bought their homes knowing that the road was going in. We said, you mean the city did not tell you the whole story? Imagine that.
Just a reminder of the following meetings:
Councilman Oscar Delgado is going to be holding a town hall to address these map issues. This meeting is SEPARATE from the meeting that is to be held by the City of Reno to answer questions on these maps.
Set your calendars for
So, Councilman Delgado's meeting is set for
Thursday October 15th5:30 pm at Dodson Elementary School on Houston Drive
He is to have City Staff available to answer questions on the letter and maps. EVERYONE in the public is invited even if you live in the County.
This next meeting is the Open House the City has scheduled that will have city staff to answer questions is set for
Friday October 23rdbetween 11:00 am and 7:00 pmat Neil Road Recreation Center at 3925 Neil Road
It appears that this Open House is probably in a format that we are all familiar with which is some maps on easels, and people to answer questions and no formal presentation.
October 19th is fast approaching. This is our court date at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. For those who can attend here are the particulars:
OCTOBER 19, 2015 9:00 AMUPPER SOUTH EAST COMMUNITIES COALITION v. US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, et alCourtroom 2 James R Browning US Courthouse95 7th St. San Francisco, CA
October 7, 2015
Recently the Coalition was sent copies of a letter and some maps that was sent to Rosewood Lakes HOA informing of a meeting that would take place regarding some information that was released by FEMA through the City of Reno, on flood mapping. This letter states that it is a "notification of the establishment of a new Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) for a 1% annual chance of a flood event".
Again the maps are just for a specific area and we have requested the full maps but have received no response yet.
Here is a link to the City site that has the limited maps and the letter sent to residents letting them know of an upcoming Open House.
In trying to get accurate information on this issue we have discovered several different things. The first is that we are getting conflicting information about what this is. We are being told, and in fact the letter states, that this is NOT the Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) for the SEC, and in fact we have been told by the Engineer Manager of the City of Reno that the CLOMR has not been released yet. HOWEVER, at the bottom of the limited maps provided, it states "Flood&Drainage/Project/SE Connector/Phase 2/CLOMR". Further, as we said, we are being told that this is not the CLOMR for the SEC, yet we are told that FEMA has released the limited attached maps because of the realignment of Steamboat Creek due to the SEC.
This next file contains addresses of people affected by flooding and on the "sheet 3" is the addresses that have been added due to the establishment of the new SFHA. Be prepared, this document is in Excel.
We have been informed that RTC is currently not allowed to work south of Pembroke as the CLOMR has not been released yet.
The Coalition is working to get meetings with City Staff that can possibly answer questions. Meanwhile Councilman Oscar Delgado is going to be holding a town hall to address these map issues. This meeting is SEPARATE from the meeting that is to be held by the City of Reno to answer questions on these maps.
So, Councilman Delgado's meeting is set for
Thursday October 15th
at Dodson Elementary School on Houston Drive
He is to have City Staff available to answer questions on the letter and maps. EVERYONE in the public is invited even if you live in the County.
This next meeting is the Open House the City has scheduled that will have city staff to answer questions is set for
Friday October 23rd
between 11:00 am and 7:00 pm
at Neil Road Recreation Center at 3925 Neil Road
It appears that this Open House is probably in a format that we are all familiar with which is some maps on easels, and people to answer questions and no formal presentation.
October 19th is fast approaching. This is our court date at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. For those who can attend here are the particulars:
OCTOBER 19, 2015
UPPER SOUTH EAST COMMUNITIES COALITION v. US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, et al
James R Browning US Courthouse
95 7th St. San Francisco, CA
Just want to make sure that everyone understands....The results of this effort might be on the news before we can get an update out to our stakeholders. It is anticipated that RTC will have the local press on speed dial to make sure that, if they prevail, it gets on the news asap. Coalition Board members will also have press on speed dial should we prevail. However due to the drive back, we don't anticipate an update until late in the evening.
September 14, 2015
For those who can attend, the Washoe County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife is holding a meeting on September 17th at 6:00 pm to get an update from RTC on the new wetlands that RTC is claiming that they can build by the confluence of Steamboat Creek and the Yori Drain. There is a 3 minute public comment period at the beginning.
Here is a copy of the agenda.
September 7, 2015
A quick update to let everyone know that we are still working toward our October 19, 2015 - 9th Circuit Court of Appeals action. Our legal team has been working on this and have been answering questions for us that have come from our supporters. Here are a few answers to some questions on the process:
Are we (our case) first thing in the morning?
- Most likely we are one of a few cases that morning. Be prepared to spend from 9-12 in the court room.
Will we (our side) get the opportunity to speak or do the judges just ask questions?
- We will all get an opportunity (20 min per side) to present oral arguments/answer questions from the panel. (It’s a three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit.)
Who goes first?
- We will go first, and can reserve time for rebuttal (after they go). Our portion of the hearing will only last about 40 minutes.
When will we know the outcome?
- It is not clear how quickly they will get a decision out. If they are inclined to agree with our side, it will probably be issued very quickly. If not, it might take more time. They will know which way they are going after the hearing, when the judges meet for a “conference” to discuss the cases before them that day.
Do we know who the judges are yet?
- We find out which judges are on our panel a week before the argument.
Why can't we bring up other issues at this time?
- Our case for the Appeal is just on the interpretation of the law by the Judge in District Court. In other words we are trying to get the Appeals court to rule that the District Court judge misinterpreted the law when this case was before the District Court. So nothing new can be introduced at this time. Should we prevail and get our injunction, we will then work toward our "Merits Hearing" and that will be the time to bring up all our additional arguments.
Will the Appeals judges grant the injunction if we are successful?
- The Appeals judges have that option, however another option is to agree with our side that the District Court Judge made an error and send our case back to that court to have that judge issue the injunction.
If there are any other questions please feel free to contact us and we will try and get you answers as soon as possible. If you can attend,
our court date is:
OCTOBER 19, 2015
UPPER SOUTH EAST COMMUNITIES COALITION v. US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, et al
James R Browning US Courthouse
95 7th St. San Francisco, CA
At this time there is still no word on the CLOMR from FEMA. As soon as we hear something about that we will let you know.
August 17, 2015
Our legal team has filed our Reply Brief with the 9th Circuit Court on August 14, 2015. This is the final document that either side is allowed to file. The Coalition has the last word before our court date. Our legal team did another outstanding job. Please see link below.
Please remember that our court date is
OCTOBER 19, 2015
UPPER SOUTH EAST COMMUNITIES COALITION v. US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, et al
James R Browning US Courthouse
95 7th St. San Francisco, CA
We have been asked why the court date is so far out. What we can tell you is that our legal team has informed us that this is exceptionally fast. Usually the wait is 1.5 to 2 years. We asked for an expedited scheduled and we were accommodated.
Please look for future updates coming soon.
August 13, 3015
We are sorry for the delay in updates, but we were having significant computer issues. After finally getting all computer problems resolved we are providing an update on the opposition brief(s) that were filed by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) in the 9th Circuit with their opposition comments to the Coalition's opening brief filed July 14th - that asked for the 9th Circuit to halt construction until our case can be heard on it merits.
The opposition briefs by the Corps and RTC (respondents) were filed on Aug 4th. Of course their documents did all they could to make us appear to be wasting their, and everyone else's, time and to make the Coalition appear to be uninformed and ignorant of facts; and of course this project is for the good of all mankind. Please remember that they want to make us look as bad as possible.
The Coalition gets the last word in this process before we get to court at the 9th Circuit. Our reply to their opposition is very succinct and does an excellent job in countering all the respondents claims of the implied Coalition's idiocy. This brief is to be filed on Aug 14th and shortly after it will be available on the website and an update with a link will be provided.
WE NOW HAVE A COURT DATE FOR THE 9TH CIRCUIT!
OCTOBER 19, 2015
UPPER SOUTH EAST COMMUNITIES COALITION v. US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, et al
James R Browning US Courthouse
95 7th St. San Francisco, CA
We encourage all who can come to mark your calendars and join the Coalition Board of Directors in court!
Here are the links to the briefs by the Corps and RTC. We had to remove the supporting documents from RTC as their filing was almost 400 pages and would not download. So the text is all that is linked to here:
July 20, 2015
Attached below you will find the Coalition's Opening Brief that was filed by our legal team on Tuesday July 14, 2015. Opposition Briefs from the Corps and RTC are due by Aug 4th. At which time we believe that the Corps will try and justify what they have done and RTC will spend a lot of time trashing us. After the opposition brief, our legal team will have the opportunity to respond to what is said in the opposition briefs, which will be due on Aug 14th. Then we get a court date.
Just for clarification purposes because we had an email on this after the last update, what happened on July 9th when we did not get the Preliminary Injunction to stop construction while court proceedings are going on for the 9th circuit....was not that the court "knocked down" points made by our attorneys, rather they found that they did not see any "irreparable harm" in the current construction. A PI must meet certain criteria, which is an extremely high bar to meet, and "irreparable harm" is one of the criteria. They felt that whatever is being done right now can be reversed should we achieve our ultimate goal of stopping this project in this location.
Our legal team was not surprised that the emergency PI was denied (but were hopeful that it would not be!) because it is limited to about 18 to 24 pages and can only cover the basics in the PI motions.
So, this brief, which was submitted July 14th, and which is our actual appeal, will be extensive in its reasons why the 9th should find that the District Court "abused its discretion" and "failed to apply clear 9th Circuit precedent"; so we are requesting that the 9th Circuit Court overturn the district court's order and issue an injunction (to stop construction) pending a decision on the merits.
July 10, 2015
On July 6th the Regional Transportation Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers filed their motions in opposition to our request for an Emergency Preliminary Injunction. See link to those below. Also attached is our reply.
On July 9th the 9th Circuit denied our request for an emergency preliminary injunction to stop work until we can have our case heard at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, However,
we were granted an expedited hearing schedule.
Here is the "order"
Filed order (MARY M. SCHROEDER and WILLIAM C. CANBY) This is a preliminary injunction appeal. Appellant’s amended emergency motion for injunctive relief pending this preliminary injunction appeal is denied. See Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008); Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1134-35 (9th Cir. 2011). Appellant’s alternative request to expedite this appeal is granted. The opening brief remains due July 14, 2015. The answering briefs are now due August 4, 2015, or 21 days after service of the opening brief, whichever is earlier; and the optional reply brief is now due August 14, 2015, or 10 days after service of the answering brief, whichever is earlier. Any request for an extension of time to file a brief is disfavored; any such relief must be requested under Ninth Circuit Rule 31-2.2(b). The Clerk shall place this appeal on the first available calendar upon completion of briefing.  (ME)
We anticipate that our case will be heard in the 9th Circuit sometime in either late Aug or early September pending their availability. Please look for updates
June 27, 2015
The Upper South East Communities Coalition filed Motion of Emergency Injunction on June 25, 2015. A link to the actual filing is below. This motion was limited in the number of pages allowed to be filed. This is separate, but goes hand in hand with our actual 9th Circuit Appeal of the District Courts ruling to try and halt construction until the Merits hearing in about 6 months.
One thing that we have learned is that law is not fast moving, even though they tell us that this process is moving quickly.
So the motion for an emergency preliminary injunction to the 9th Circuit is to try and halt construction until our actual Appeal to the 9th Circuit can be heard. We should hear something on this emergency motion from the Court in about 2 weeks. There is no hearing for this step.
Here is a rough timeline of what has and will happen:
On June 16th the Coalition's legal team filed our notice of Preliminary Injunction Appeal and our Ex Parte Application. The Corps and RTC had to be noticed before filing.
(another short delay was that the Judge from District Court-Mendez did not give a written ruling, we had to wait for the transcript)
On June 25th the Coalition's legal team filed our motion for emergency preliminary injunction to try and halt construction until our Appeal to the 9th Circuit. These are hard to get. If we don't get the emergency preliminary injunction, we have asked for an expedited appeals hearing with the 9th Circuit. (If we don't get PI then the process for the 9th Circuit Appeal could take up to four months- which is why we also asked for expedited hearing.)
The opposition (The Corps and RTC) now have until July 6th to file their motions in opposition to the emergency preliminary injunction. If this is anything like their last opposition brief, then they will spend a lot of their allowed words bashing the Coalition. Then our legal team can file our response to their objection quickly after.
Meanwhile, our legal team is working on our 9th Circuit Appeal Brief which they plan to file by July 14th. This document is much broader and has more allowed pages (double) to make our case to the 9th Circuit.
Then the Corps and RTC will have to file their opposition brief to our Appeal which is usually in about 10 days. Then our legal team should have an opportunity to rebut their opposition brief.
Then we are in court. That is the hearing that the public can attend.
We know that this is convoluted, but this is our legal system at work! We are going as fast as we can.
We want to thank everyone for their continued support. We could not do what we do without you.
June 18, 2015
City Council Appeal
So, we are still trying to wrap our heads around what happened last night.
First, Our local legal counsel, Luke Busby, made our case and was very clear on the Reno Municipal Code (RMC) and, at the end before the vote, made some additional excellent points. Not the least of which was; precedent had no place in this issue. Just because they had broken RMC in the past, does not mean that they should continue.
Of course City Staff and the City Deputy Assistant Attorney made their case that they did nothing wrong.
RTC made their case as: that according to the State Legislature, the City does not have authority over the RTC, the state legislature does (paraphrase).
Delgado asked the Council to support him in "over turning" the hearing officer, as the code (RMC) was very clear and in black and white on the big overhead that showed the portion of the code in question. Brekhus made some excellent points, among which were that there are other interlocal agreements, and they are not immune to getting required permits when needed.
Of course we were never going to have Jardon and McKenzie, then it became clear that we did not have Bobzien, so Duerr was the swing vote.
She was very adamant that she wants the inter-local agreement brought back before council very soon to get clarification and eventual direction that RTC needs to come to council to get ALL permits, however, she felt that her getting clarity on the CLOMR (Conditional Letter of Map Revision from FEMA) - and that RTC could not do any work south of Pembroke until that is in hand - and the fact that RTC and the City are working together to work on the most scrutinized project in Reno, that they, she felt, had a "virtual permit" that was good enough.
Bobzien mentioned the Enterprise Fund and all the money that could have been collected (where the grading permit money goes) which appears to benefit private developers and that, should they revisit the inter-local agreement, then the council might have an opportunity to redirect that money. But that was all he said.
It was like the Twilight Zone. MOST all on the Council were in favor of changing the (now) standard practice of RTC not requiring themselves to get permits for the future, but voted to let them (RTC) to continue to violate RMC for this particular issue. It made no sense.
The majority voted to violate the RMC in favor of RTC for this issue.
There was almost two hours of discussion so I can't get into all of that here, but we lost 4-3. Mayor Schieve, Brekhus and Delgado voted in favor "over turning" the Hearing Officer and requiring RTC to get a permit; and Jardon, McKenzie, Bobzien and Duerr voted against.
Immediately after that vote Jardon made a motion to uphold the hearing officers ruling against us, McKenzie seconded and Bobzien and Duerr voted to support upholding the decision.
Jardon then made a final comment on how RTC prevailed because they were in the right (paraphrase)
9th Circuit Appeal
There are steps that must be followed to file an appeal to the 9th Circuit. We got this from legal to let us know what those are:
1. We need to immediately file (a) a notice of appeal and (b) a request to Judge Mendez to issue an injunction pending appeal. Both are one-page documents,
DONE - on June 16
2. We also need to notify the other parties immediately that we plan to seek an emergency injunction from the Ninth Circuit.
DONE - on June 16
3. By the end of the week we plan to file a motion with the Ninth Circuit asking for an injunction or, at the very least, an expedited schedule to hear our appeal from Judge Mendez’s denial of our PI motion. The timing of this motion hinges in part on when we can get the transcript of the hearing, since Judge Mendez did not provide a written order.
Since Judge Mendez did not provide a written order we have to wait for the court recorder to complete her transcription. This is looking more like Monday the 22nd
4. Once we get these documents on file, the Ninth Circuit will give us a briefing/hearing schedule.
RTC has already sent threats to our legal team about our suit. They are claiming that if we file a "frivolous suit" then they will seek appropriate costs and sanctions. Our attorneys are not concerned about that.
June 17, 2015
On June 15th, the Upper South East Communities Coalition instructed our legal team to pursue an appeal at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to try and reverse the determination of the Eastern District Court denying a Preliminary Injunction for the Southeast Connector until our case can be heard on its merits.
The Preliminary Injunction would require the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County to halt all work on the entire project until the merits hearing.
The Coalition asked the public for direction on this issue and the public overwhelmingly supported this action and donated sufficient funds for this appeal in 5 days.
June 16, 2015
On June 17th at 6:00 pm at Reno City Council Chambers, the City Council will be hearing our appeal on the requirement of a grading permit for the SEC. Our appeal was prepared by our local legal counsel and a copy of the appeal is here:
June 13, 2015
Sorry for the delay in updates!
On June 3rd our Coalition was unsucsessful in our attempt to get a Preliminary Injunction to stop construction on the Southeast Connector until we can get to our Merits Hearing in about 6 months. While this was, of course, a setback, the Coalition is reviewing our legal options and plan to have an announcement by Monday morning.
We are urging all our supporters to CONSIDER A DONATION to our legal fund.
June 2, 2015
For the Federal
Our Court date for the Preliminary Injunction has been moved up to June 3rd in Eastern District Court in Sacramento. We will have Coalition Board members present to observe and report back. If this preliminary injunction is approved or not approved, we will get our court date to hear our case on the merits which should be in about 6 months. If we do get that PI then work will have to stop on the project until the future court date.
During the Corps and RTC's reply briefs, they of course did their best to discredit and diminish our case our legal team and our Board members. Then our legal team had the opportunity to respond.
A copy of the Reply Brief from our Legal Team is attached below
For the City
Our Coalition also has appealed the Hearing Officers Ruling with the City of Reno on the Grading permit and the Conditional Letter Of Map Revision from FEMA and that is expected to be heard before City Council on June 17th at 6:00 pm.
A copy of the Appeal is attached here:
May 22, 2015
We have been very busy but wanted to give you all a quick update on what is going on. As you know we filed our motion for a Preliminary Injunction on May 6th. We had been told that our court date was going to be June 17th. Our attorneys have worked hard to get that date moved up, so our new court date is June 3rd at 9:30 am at the Federal Court in Sacramento. Members of the Coalition Board will be attending.
The June 3 hearing is just on our preliminary injunction motion. At that hearing, the court will consider whether to tell RTC it has to stop construction until our case can be heard on the merits. It will likely take several months before our case can be heard on the merits because, before that happens, the United States has to prepare the administrative record, the parties have to submit briefs on the merits, and then the court holds a hearing.
So, we need to have the court issue the PI to get require RTC to stop any major construction work that may happen before we get to court. Our legal team is working several different avenues to try and achieve this goal with the court.
I am sure some of you may be as surprised as the City was to find out that RTC says that because of the signed inter-local agreements between RTC and Reno, Sparks and Washoe County, RTC has the "authority" to act as these entities and not require themselves to get permits. That they (RTC) really only answer to the State legislature so the City really has no "authority" over them. Also, you may be surprised to find out that RTC has not paid for grading permits for the last five major projects that they have done (Veterans Parkway, Geiger Grade Roundabout, Moana Widening and Airway Drive) and that they (the City) had estimated that they should have got, conservatively, about $400,000 just for the grading permit from the SEC for Pembroke south to South Meadows Parkway. RTC says that the County did not require them to get a permit for Clean Water Way to Pembroke (so who knows how much the County lost for that revenue) and neither did Sparks for Phase 1.
So due to this inter-local agreement our appeal to the Hearing Officer did not find in our favor so we are appealing that to City Council. If the City Staff seemed surprised to find out that RTC does not have to get permits if they don't want to, imagine what the City Council is going to think!
May 19, 2015
The City of Reno Hearing officer heard our case and as expected, RTC was there to intervene and declare that appropriate actions were taken on the issue of the grading permits. We disagreed and the City disagreed both for different reasons. The Coalition because the NRS and the City Codes are very clear on who and what needs a grading permit and the City because they said that really the only reason is because they had not required grading permits for the last five major road projects, however, RTC says that due to the interlocal agreements signed by the City of Reno, Washoe County and the City of Sparks, RTC can act on their "behalf" and not require themselves to get permits. RTC have only been getting some permits sometimes as a courtesy.
Our legal representative Luke Busby made a compelling case against RTC's stance that they do not have to get permits and that they only answer to the legislature not really the City of Reno and they can waive these things in the City of Reno municipal code if they deem it necessary.
We had been told at this meeting by the City of Reno that RTC could do no work south of Pembroke until the CLOMR has been reviewed and commented on by FEMA. We will see if that holds true.
May 12, 2015
The Coalition is providing a copy of our Preliminary Injunction That was filed on May 6, 2015 in U.S. District Court in Eastern District of California.
Update - May 8, 2015
The Upper South East Communities Coalition's legal team filed complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act (CWA) on May 6, 2015 in United States District Court Eastern District of California.
We are asking the Court to adjudge and declare that the Corps's issuance of the Section 404 Permit for the Southeast Connector, violated the Administrative Procedure Act (ACA), and the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the National Environmental Policy Act's (NEPA) implementing regulations. We are seeking an order from the Court to require the Corps to rescind the Section 404 Permit until the Coalitions claims are decided on the merits.
At this time we have a tentative Court date of June 17, 2015, however the Corps, RTC and the Coalition will be petitioning the Court to be heard at an earlier date.
It appears while we are waiting, that there might be some "pre-construction" work going on.
Currently, among other permits, RTC does not have a "de-watering" permit that is required from the State of Nevada. They will not be able to do any major excavating without this permit in case they run into ground water. If they need to pump ground water it has to either be distributed on the ground or put into Steamboat Creek. If they want to pump into Steamboat Creek (which is anticipated due to the amount of ground water to be pumped) then that triggers involvement by the EPA
Yesterday, RTC legal counsel was scheduled to file a motion with the Court to intervene as an "Intervenor-Defendant". This was not unexpected and we are waiting to find out if they did and what that will mean for our Coalition and our case against the Corps.
As you all may be aware from our previous updates, the Coalition filed an appeal with the City of Reno Hearing Executive regarding City Staff making the decision that a grading permit would not be required for this project and that the CLOMR need not be completed prior to construction as was required in the Conditions of the SUP's and Variances. We have a hearing date of May 19th for the Coalition Board members and our local legal counsel. Of course we will be sending another update to let everyone know what happens.
April 30, 2015
Legal Action Begins
On Wednesday April 29th, the Coalition's legal counsel, Winter King filed the attached Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief.
The following is a synopsis of the next steps as explained by Ms. King at our Coalition Community Meeting on April 21st.
1) Contact the attorneys for RTC and the Corps to see if they will voluntarily stop construction until we can get our motion for preliminary injunction heard (approx. 1 month).
This is a requirement of the court rules that we try to work this out amongst ourselves. An email was sent to the attorneys who represented RTC and the Corps last time around. We'll see what they say.
2) If they won't agree to a pause in construction, we file a motion for a "temporary restraining order," (TRO) asking the court to make them stop construction until the court can decide on whether a longer, preliminary injunction is in order. As a reminder, a "TRO" is a very short-term injunction, and is only appropriate if there is immediate harm. A "Preliminary Injunction" or "PI" is supposed to preserve the status quo until the case can be decided on the merits (in our case, that could be 6 months from now).
3) TROs are quite difficult to get. We'll just have to wait and see.
4) There will be a hearing on the TRO.
Even if the Court denies our TRO, it will set a schedule for hearing our motion for a preliminary injunction. The Corps and RTC will have an opportunity to respond to our brief, and we'll get a reply brief.
5) Once the court decides our motion for a preliminary injunction, we then wait for the administrative record to be prepared by the Corps. If the court has granted our PI motion, RTC can do nothing while we wait. If the court denies our PI motion, RTC can continue with construction while we wait.
6) When the record is done, we file a motion for summary judgment (this is our "merits" brief, where we finally get to focus just on what the Corps did wrong). Again, the Corps and RTC get a chance to oppose the motion. The court will have another hearing on this motion, probably sometime in the fall.
We are also continuing our appeal to the City of Reno Hearing Officer on the decision by Staff to not require RTC to get a grading permit and have the Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) application completed by FEMA before construction could begin as stated in the Conditions from November 7, 2013 by the Planning Commission and upheld by the Reno City Council after appeal on December 4, 2013. We are waiting for a response from the Hearing Officer.
At our April 21st meeting we received many on the spot donations and pledges from a lot of people in the audience! Thank you! We could now use those pledges that were made for some of our legal expenses!
We really need monetary support from the communities! As stated in our previous update, we will need ongoing monetary donations to continue this legal effort. If the support stops then the Board will have to review our efforts and make a decision to continue.
We are asking for your support for legal expenses to continue to protect wetlands, open space and flood plains in this community.
We cannot do this without your help!
See a copy of the Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief at our LEGAL tab.
April 15, 2015
At 9:00 am this morning, while we were waiting for the Reno City Council Meeting to start, The Army Corps of Engineers granted RTC their Clean Water 404 permit.
We were then unsure what was going to happen at Council. After several hours of public comment and discussion we had our answer:
After much discussion on Conditional Letters or Map Revisions (CLOMR's) and other issues regarding the project and some testimony by an old acquaintance of the Coalition, Kevin Roukey, who worked for the Army Corps of Engineers for 34 years, and some really great comments by the Council, despite the Corps already approving the Clean Water 404b Permit, the City Council passed the Resolution asking the Army Corps to require RTC to do an Environmental Impact Statement for the SEC. The vote was 4-3.
Why does what they did matter and - WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
Councilman Delgado, in a really strategic move, asked that the City Council request a "review" of the EA (Environmental Assessment, which is what the Corps just completed and is different than an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which would give us 30 to 60 days to get our ducks in a row. RTC did not seem happy with this as it seems that they cannot begin until the review is over? We are working on confirming that information. You will see work being done between Clean Water and Pembroke. We are not sure what they are going to be allowed to do and what they are not. Please be patient while we get answers.We are making decisions shortly on what our next move will be.
Please be on the lookout for updates.
April 10, 2015
The Reno City Council is meeting this coming Wednesday April 15th at 10:00 am, at City Hall, to discuss and vote on a Resolution from the City to the Army Corps of Engineers to urge the Corps to require the Regional Transportation Commission to perform an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Southeast Connector Phase 2 Project.
We encourage those who can - to come and be a voice on why the City Council should approve this Resolution and speak on the devastating impacts of this environmentally damaging project. We anticipate that this will be heard by Council sometime between 10:00 am and 12:00 pm.
We are hearing that a determination from the Army Corps of Engineers on the Clean Water 404b permit application could be released as soon as next week. We are working every day to try and provide the Corps with information that would lead them to a determination of an EIS.
March 11, 2015
At 6:40 this evening, after almost an hour and a half of discussion, the Reno City Council voted to approve spending funds to bring back a draft Resolution that would contain language from the Reno City Council asking the Corps to require an Environmental Impact Statement for the Southeast Connector. The vote was 6-1 in favor.
We would like to thank those of you who sent comments and those who showed up tonight to speak or just to fill out comment cards.
The Draft Resolution will be brought back to Reno City Council on April 15th. The Council will vote then whether or not to approve. Council asked for other information to be brought back at the same time, which included information on a variety of items from City Staff and RTC.
Please look for future updates that will indicate how you can help and when; and about what time to be at City Council on April 15th.
February 16, 2015
Sorry it has been so long everyone! We are still waiting on a determination. Every time we get a date it gets pushed back and now we are looking at about the end of March 2015 for the determination. Meanwhile, the Coalition has submitted the following letter to local, state and federal agencies in regards to a potential problem.
Dear Mayor Schieve and Reno City Council Members,
The Upper South East Communities Coalition (Coalition) would like to formally protest current actions by the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC). Starting on February 9th the RTC began Phase 2 of the McCarran Widening Project. This project is to widen McCarran to six lanes from Mira Loma to Greg St and to install new sound walls along McCarran from Longely Lane to about Pembroke Dr and include a multi-use path along the south side of McCarran;a project that is expected to take about a year and involves heavy equipment and scores of construction workers.
RTC has cleared/built a "stockpiling area" on Pembroke in or about in the location of the proposed Southeast Connector Rd. RTC is very aware that there has been no 404 permit issued for the Southeast Connector Road Project (SEC), in part, as there are significant numbers of Cultural Resource sites that are under review by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). SHPO has preliminarily determined that there are sites in the proposed SEC alignment that would be destroyed or damaged from construction of the SEC. As the public has not been given the location of these sites, we are very concerned that RTC, in taking advantage of a project that does not need federal review (The McCarran Widening Project), has damaged sites that are under federal review for another project (The Southeast Connector) in building this "stockpiling area" in the proposed alignment for the SEC!
RTC cannot claim that one project has nothing to do with the other. RTC has different project managers for each project but RTC management knows what is going on with both. To claim at this point that they "might not have been aware" of the Cultural sites is stretching the bounds of credibility. To "accidentally" do work in an area that is under federal review is not even remotely possible unless complete and utter incompetence is as work.
Last, RTC has placed this "stockpiling area" for the McCarran Widening Project (which is a major road construction/sound-wall/multi-use path project) on a small, two lane residential road. The McCarran Widening Project is a significant project that is expected to last almost a year and someone seems to have been genius enough to put the stock piling area for this extensive project on Pembroke! Pembroke is a small two land road that is not equipped to handle the heavy construction trucks that will be accessing Pembroke coming and going all day long. There are school bus stops on this road, the northern portion of Hidden Valley and Hidden Meadows uses this road for access to and from their homes, there are homes that have driveways onto this small road and Eastside Subdivision has exactly ONE way in, and ONE way out of their community and that access point is on Pembroke less than 70 feet from McCarran! This is sure to be blocked a good portion of the day with trucks trying to get back out onto McCarran.
A quick drive around the area reveals numerous areas where heavy construction truck traffic would have been more accommodating. There are any number of front pastures on McCarran at UNR Farms (which is right in the construction zone!). There are many empty lots on Corporate Drive (a commercial area). The flood project holds all kinds of unused property on Mill St. (a four lane road). The old Brookside Golf Course on Rock has significant empty space, etc. With little effort, a more appropriate site could have been found.
Do the right thing. Stop allowing RTC to use a site that is under federal review as a "stockpiling area" for another project. Move the stockpiling area to a more accessible site for heavy trucks. The existing site is not acceptable and should be relocated.
We will await your response.
The Upper South East Communities Coalition, Inc
Non-Profit - 501c3 - For the Protection of Open Space In Washoe County
Upper South East Communities Coalition Board of Directors
Kimberly Rhodemyre, Chair
Wayne Sievers, Vice Chair
Yvonne Nordmeyer, Secretary
Richard Odynski, Treasurer
Douglas Wachholz, Director
Eric Cole, Director
Winter King, Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger - Coalition Attorney
Joseph Petta, Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger - Coalition Attorney
Luke Andrew Busby Ltd, - Coalition Attorney
Kristine Hansen, Senior Project Manager, Army Corps of Engineers- Reno Field Office
Jessica Axsom, Review and Compliance Archaeologist - State Historic Preservation Office
Claudia Hanson, Planning and Housing Manager -City of Reno
John Flansberg, Public Works Director - City of Reno
Brenda Lee, Project Manager - McCarran Widening Project
Garth Oksol, Project Manager - Southeast Connector
December 27, 2014
The Coalition has learned that the Army Corps of Engineers is anticipating a determination on this environmentally destructive project in late January. Meanwhile we continue to work to protect open spaces, wetlands and flood plains.
We want to wish everyone a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!
We hope that our efforts and hard work to the protection of open spaces, wetlands and flood plains will lead to a successful 2015!
December 16, 2014
Activity at Clean Water Way
We have found out what is going on at the end of the already completed Phase 1 (the Clean Water Way area) with all the trucks of material being dumped on top of the end of Phase 1; on the dirt berm that is just south of Clean Water Way. Granite Construction, who was awarded the contract for Phase 2 (should it ever be constructed) had been doing the new runway at the Reno Tahoe Airport and if any of you had driven on Rock you could see the huge pile of debris right there around Rock and Mill. Well, apparently the Airport wanted that pile gone so Granite got permission to bring all the material to the Phase 1 site (at the end by Clean Water Way) and distribute it on that dirt berm.
We don't believe it can be used as fill if Phase 2 should ever get started as it is full of broken concrete and other debris, so most likely it will have to be removed and hauled away at some future time should construction ever start there. But there are certainly a lot of truck loads being dumped there. That is what is going on.
The Corps and RTC
We have found out that RTC is pretty frustrated with the lack of determination from the Corps. Apparently the Corps is still waiting on a final consultation with the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO). We feel that once the final consultation is in, then the Corps will review and it is possible that a determination will come then. We know that the Corps is no longer giving tentative dates for determination as they have not met the last five projected dates. Unless something significant happens, we are not anticipating a determination before the end of the year. (But never say never!) Let's all just enjoy the holiday season with the fact that RTC is sitting on a $65 million dollar bridge to nowhere that is getting cobwebs on it and that is upsetting them! Merry Christmas!
December 5, 2014
Still waiting on a determination for this destructive project by the Army Corps of Engineers. We continue to gather information and schedule meetings that we feel my help us protect open spaces, wetlands and flood plains in south east Reno.
November 12, 2014
As of today there has been no contact from the Army Corps of Engineers or the EPA on steps taken recently to counter information that was learned through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As of today there is no determination on the Clean Water 404b permit submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers by the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC). The Coalition is still being told that a determination is eminent.
Your Coalition Board works hard every day to protect open spaces, wetlands and flood plains from irresponsible and potentially dangerous decisions. This work sometimes incurs legal expenses. Please support our efforts to protect open spaces, wetlands and flood plains!
October 26, 2014
Your Board of Directors have been very active lately and this activity has involved legal work. We are working to counter what we learned from our FOIA request and we have tried very hard to make sure that the Corps makes a determination of an Environmental Impact Statement for the permit application on the SEC by RTC.
From everything we have been able to gather, a determination is expected in the next several weeks but could be any day. We want you all to be prepared to attend a large community meeting once the determination is made. It could be very short notice, but it will be an evening meeting and we will have it in a venue large enough to handle several hundred people. This is critical that we get a large turnout, but again, it will be short notice so everyone please be prepared.
October 16, 2014
The Coalition recently acquired through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents from the Army Corps of Engineers detailing correspondence and memos between the Corps and the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Fish and Wildlife (F&W), Nevada Divison of Environmental Protection (NDEP) and the Nevada State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO).
We have to tell you that now the Coalition and our legal team have had a chance to review, they are ILLUMINATING! Due to the RTC monitoring this site, we are not going to post our plans of action here, but watch this space, our website "updates" page and if you are a stakeholder, look for future e-mails. We will be informing everyone shortly of steps that have been taken.
October 8, 2014
The majority of people working to try and stop this project in this location are working class people or retired seniors. While we continue to ask for their support and they have been so helpful and generous, we need to expand our contribution base to be able to continue our campaign.
Our campaign is critical to the protection of the last of the flood plains, open spaces and wetlands in the area. It is critical to the protection of the surrounding environment that the methyl mercury and the arsenic that is prevalent in the area due to historic mining on the Comstock, remain stagnate and is not disturbed. It is critical to the entire Truckee Meadows that this land remain open space as it is the very last areas of flood storage that the region has.
We work everyday to safeguard these things from the single minded obsession of our local government to build this massive infrastructure in this area when there are other viable routes for this project that would be less environmentally damaging and/or less expensive
September 28, 2014
We have been told that the "soft" date for a determination might be the beginning of November. However, that date might be sooner if the Corps gets all their consultations done. So, to be safe, lets just say that that the determination could be sometime between mid October and Mid November. Time might be getting short.
The Coalition recently acquired through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, all the documents between the Army Corps of Engineers and the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC), and all comments from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Fish and Wildlife (F&W), State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO), Nevada Department of Environmental Protection Superfund Branch (NDEPSB) and some others and have forward those documents to legal to review.
We found that there might be an alteration of the permit by RTC to try and appease EPA that would eliminate the new mitigation wetlands scheduled for the Butler Ranch North and the Butler Ranch South. EPA is very concerned about the methylation of the mercury should it start to be disturbed. NDEPSB is also concerned about this.
Please continue to support our efforts and watch this space for updates
September 15, 2014
We have been recently told by the Army Corps of Engineers that it most likely will be early November before a determination on the 404 permit is made. The time table keeps getting pushed back, for which we are thankful. This just proves that this location chosen for this environmentally damaging project is not the best location, and that there appears to be huge issues with the permit because it is taking so long.
It has taken us just a little bit longer than we thought to get the documents that we were seeking. We have them now and they are being reviewed. We hope to have an update on what they contain by our update next week. Please continue to watch this space.
September 2, 2014
Here it is the beginning of September and RTC's environmentally damaging project still has no permit to go any further. In fact, what they have completed is getting cobwebs on it! We are working behind the scenes to do everything we can to make sure that the RTC must consider the Alternative Routes for this project. We anticipate having some new information next week! Please continue to watch this space for updates
August 22, 2014
Still no word on the Clean Water 404b Permit Application from the Army Corps of Engineers. We are working at this time to get some additional documents that could provide us with more information. As soon as we send to legal and they review we will get whatever new information we learn out to you!
Again, thank you so much for all our local, national and international supporters!
August 9, 2014
Our update from the Corps this week is as follows:
"A decision will not be made before September. We may be looking more to October depending on consultations."
We want to thank all of our local, national and international partners for their continued support! Questions through our website are being answered as quick as possible.
July 25, 2014
In the RGJ yesterday and at least one of the news channels reported that RTC is expecting a determination after July on Phase 2 of the SEC. Again, RTC is using the strategy that if they talk about it like it is a "done deal" then they will get their approvals. That is what they have been doing for years now, and, it does not seem to be working.
As of today there still is no word from the Army Corps of Engineers on the expected determination. We have heard from a reliable source in a government agency, that it could be September before any determination is made. Could be. As one Coalition Board member said, ...."Well, September is after July!".... There is no word on whether an Environmental Impact Statement will be required. The Coalition is still working behind the scenes getting and reviewing information to use in our efforts to protect our wetlands, open spaces, flood plains, flood storage and our environments.
July 17, 2014
After almost a year and a half of review:
As of July 10, 2014, the Upper South East Communities Coalition is now a 501 (c) (3) corporation. Any contributions before that time were still tax deductible. See below.
While Your Application is Pending
While an organization's Form 1023 is waiting for processing by the IRS, the organization may operate as a tax-exempt organization.
We are no longer "pending" our application has been approved by the Internal Revenue Service.
July 11, 2014
As of yesterday the Army Corps of Engineers has stated that they are "still deep in review" and do not have a determination yet.
July 1, 2014
Our most recent conversations (last week) with the Army Corps of Engineers indicate that there is still no determination in regards to the Clean Water 404 permit application submitted by the Regional Transportation Commission for the Southeast Connector Road Project. We are still waiting on a pending determination. Please be patient with this process as it appears that it might take some time. We will, of course, keep you informed of ANY information we get even if it is no information .
June 12, 2014
The Coalition has been anticipating a determination from the Army Corps of Engineers by mid-June. We have been in contact with the Corps and the response was the following in its entirety.
"I am not ready to issue a decision. Consultations are not completed."
We have followed this up with another e-mail asking for more information, but as of yet have not received a response.
Meanwhile we are launching a new fundraising campaign on our website which will be posted shortly! Look for our future posts!
Thank you to everyone who have been so supportive both locally and internationally.
May 27, 2014
While we are waiting on a determination from the Army Corps of Engineers we are still trying to pay our legal team for all their help this past year.
Please consider a donation to our legal efforts of $10.00 U.S. (or any amount would help!).
We want to thank everyone for their continued interest in our efforts to protect open space, flood storage, wetlands and the environment!
May 12, 2014
The Army Corps of Engineers is still telling us that they have a target date for a determination for about mid June. Waiting is the hardest. After 20 years of hard work, this last bit of time seems to be dragging the longest!
We recently sent maps of all the development that has been approved and built since the 1986 ArKStorm that devastated this flood plain and caused significant damage not only to this flood plain and wetlands, but downstream to the ancient Pyramid Lake that is on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe land to encourage the Corps to require a Cumulative Impact Study that has not been done.
Please continue to watch this space for updates. Also, please consider a donation to help us with our legal expenses on the Home Page or the Contribution Page
Arpil 28, 2014
The Coalition has been told by the Regional Field Office of the Army Corps of Engineers that they are no longer taking meetings on the Southeast Connector. They are reviewing the massive amounts of documentation that has been provided to them on the 404b Permit Application from the Regional Transportation Commission on the Southeast Connector Road Project.
We still work everyday, while we are waiting on a determination, behind the scenes to reach the right people who can help us make sure this massive infrastructure project is not placed over federally protected wetlands, in the last of the area flood plains that are federally and locally designated flood storage areas. We anticipate adetermination sometime in June. The waiting is always the hardest!
The fact that the Regional Transportation Commission plans on using heavily contaminated soil as road base fill, (with methyl mercury and arsenic in these wetlands and this flood plain) makes us worked that much harder to make sure this project is determined to NOT be the Least Environmentally Damaging Practical Alternative (LEDPA).
RTC must prove that there are no other routes that are viable (which our legal representatives, the Coalition and hundreds of our supporters believe that they have not done) to meet the criteria for a Clean Water 404b Permit.
Our facebook page has reached another milestone at 1500 likes! If you have not liked us yet, jump on board! We can use all the likes we get. We know that RTC monitors our website and facebook page so the more supporters we can get for both the better!
April 13, 2014
On Arpil 16th the Reno City Council will most likely enter into an agreement with First Tee Golf to lease the Rosewood Lakes Golf Course from the City of Reno.
Here is a link (most likely temporary) to theStaff Report for the entire agenda on the 16th (sorry we could not get it downloaded at this time). Agenda items J.2 - J.2.5 are in regards to the lease agreement. These are pages 428-547 of the staff report.
Of particular interest is on page 429 which states that the City of Reno must "defease" (defeat or annul) the bonds PRIOR to the begining of construction on the SEC. We have been fighting this road for over 10 years and this is the first that we have heard this particular aspect. This now makes it clear as to why they were in such a hurry to get rid of the course. Apparently they are only going to use a portion of the RTC $7.5 mil for the debt and they could not pay the rest. Additionally if they lease it, they only have 90 days to pay the debt.
takes several minutes to download and then the page is blank for a few more seconds before it comes up.
April 3, 2014
Our legal team of Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger has completd the legal comments for the RTC "Response Comments" in particular, on the LEDPA (Least Environmentally Damaging Practical Alternative. Submitted to the Army Corps on this date.
Here is the text
| (PDF — 188 KB)|
Here are the Exhibits
| (PDF — 14 MB)|
April 3, 2014
The Coalition has completed our comments regarding RTC's "Response Comments" (link to response comments provided at February 28, 2014 Update) Submitted to the Army Corps on Monday March 31st.
Here is the cover letter
Here is the text
| (DOC — 100 KB)|
March 15, 2014
The Army Corps of Engineers has stated that they will not have any type of determination for 60-120 days. If they go from RTC recent additional submissions then that is anywhere from mid April to mid June. Of course we will let everyone know if that changes.
Legal should have the Coalition legal response to the documents (specifically the LEDPA - Least Environmentally Damaging Practical Alternative) done by next week. Once reviewed by the Board it will be sent to the Corps. The Coalition is also working on a short summary of points to send to the Corps for their review. Hopefully this will raise more questions and the Corps will reach a determination of an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) or a denial.
March 8, 2014
We have heard back from legal and of course RTC is trying to smokescreen their Alternatives Analysis by comparing them (the alternatives) to each other instead of giving comprehensive reasons why each of the other routes are not the LEDPA. They are also giving more "social" factors as impacts instead of "aquatic" factors required by the Corps.
In addition they are now claiming, with no reason or justification, that the cost of the preferred route could be as much as $100 million dollars less and the alternate routes could be as much as $100 million more. Thank goodness the Corps does not make these determinations based on cost.
There also appears to be unexplained changes to the alternatives that claim new "waters of the U.S." impacts. There are some other things also but these are some of the main issues.
Since this is in the public domain we can tell you what we have learned about FEMA:
The FEMA Flood Maps are wrong. The maps that RTC are apparently using are from the last time they mapped around here which was in the very early 1980's. Before the ARkStorm from 1986 and before the 1997 flood. This is important because it is our understanding that they (FEMA) did not do any hydrological modeling at that time, they did some type of "statistical analysis" based on the flood gauge at the Vista Reefs from previous recorded flooding. They are about 2000 cfs (cubic feet per second) off. Which equates to about an additional foot in the flood zone. Reno is aware of this, Sparks is aware of this, Washoe county is aware of this and RTC is aware of this. It has been common knowledge at least since 2006 and 2007 when the Corps released some type of Certified Hydrological Study that found the discrepancies. There is even rumor that some have known about it for longer. RTC is apparently using the incorrect data.
Our legal team is preparing response comments to the Army Corps.
Please stay tuned for further updates and help us by donating today!
February 28, 2014
The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County has responded to the recent public comments and the Army Corps of Engineers additional questions. Can view full document here.
In statements made by RTC they indicate that the EPA "objections to the project as proposed and recommends denial of the permit", are really just a request for additional information and "how RTC chose the path for the road and how is it the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative (LEDPA)", is just a simple matter of getting them more information.
This information does not appear in their response comments and the Coalition and its attorneys want to know this information too!
It is very telling that after years of study and requests for why this is the LEDPA, it has been avoided and dismissed by RTC, and in fact, RTC's executive director at one point said that the alignment for the road was chosen already and RTC did not have to provide the LEDPA information, the Army Corps just had to decide if RTC met the mitigation requirements for dredging and filling in Waters of the U.S.!
The recently released 300 pages from RTC on the public comment and the additional answers to the questions from the Corps are being reviewed at this time by our outstanding legal team, the EPA, the Army Corps and the Coalition Board. We hope to have more information on what is contained within soon.
Please help us by donating for our legal expenses!
February 17, 2014
We have been reviewing the updated Flood Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement and the General Re-Evaluation Report (DEIS and GRR) and this is what we are understanding from those reports:
· Together, the FCP and the SEC could increase the 1% ACE (i.e., 100-year) floodplain water surface elevation by as much as 1.5 feet to the west of the SEC. This is similar to what our flood consultant found in his comments that we submitted to the Army Corps.
· Without further changes to either project, the increases in flood stage with both projects in place would exceed the first floor elevations of approximately 153 structures in addition to the approximately 899 structures affected by the recommended Flood Control Project. If these impacts can’t be avoided through structural adjustments, Washoe County and/or City of Reno would need to implement a plan to comply with federal flood insurance program requirements.
February 15, 2014
It is our understanding that RTC is expected to have a response to the additional questions that the Army Corps of Engineers demanded that RTC answer, by the end of February. Please check back at this space for further updates. To review the questions see the update below.
January 25, 2014
The Army Corps of Engineers has submitted sixteen additional questions to the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) to answer in depth in RTC's 404 permit application. The link is here:
and the pdf is attached below. This is a significant list of questions and we urge all to review this 5 page document.
| (PDF — 2 MB)|
January 15, 2014
In the city of Reno's ongoing efforts to destroy completely the open space, flood storage and wetlands/wildlife in our area, today the City Council heard an assessment on the viability of the Rosewood Lakes Golf Course.
Of course the "expert" came to the conclusion that the RLGC is costing the city too much money and is in debt so it has the following options.
Sink more money into it to improve it and advertise it; once the road is built build another nine holes on the other side of Pembroke to keep 18 holes; keep only nine holes; abandon the golf course all together and make it open space and trails; sell land to developers.
The "expert" indicated that there were other courses to play in the City and in Washoe County so that this course will not be missed. He was really pushing for closing.
This will come back before the City Council in Feb. Please look for more updates.
January 11, 2014
The Coalition held its Fundraising Raffle Event and could not be more thankful to everyone for their support! We exceeded our goal of 800 tickets by selling 940. This will make quite a dent in our legal bill.
Please look for our new fund raising efforts to be posted soon on our Events page!
Thank you everyone!
December 27, 2013
We have been getting many reports that the pair of Bald Eagles are back and hunting in the area of Pembroke and the Rosewood Lakes Golf Course!
Please be aware that the Army Corps of Engineers is asking Fish and Wildlife to do a biological assessment of the area to include the Bald and Golden Eagles. If you would like to contact F&W directly, please call Chris Nicolai at (775) 861-6333 to voice your concerns or comments.
December 17, 2013
Meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers
The Army Corps of Engineers as stated that the Southeast Connector is a very complex project with many layers and issues to be reviewed and resolved before any decision is made regarding the permit. Currently they are conducting an Environmental Assessment (EA). However, the Corps has stated to us that, at this time, the reason they are conducting an EA is to determine one of the following: (1) an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is needed, or (2) a denial of the permit all together, or (3) an approval of the permit with mitigation.
The Corps will be preparing a list of questions to the RTC sometime (most likely) at the new year, and RTC will need to answer those questions if they want to continue with the permit process. RTC will have 30 days to respond to those questions. We are going to be FOIAing this list of questions and the responses. We won't receive that until the list is complete and then the answers are given. RTC also has the option of commenting on all the public comment received by the Corps from other agencies and the general public.
While this is going on the Corps will be reviewing the Alternatives Routes and will be doing an independent analysis of the alternatives in addition to seeing if there is another route that RTC has not considered. They will also be researching the Cumulative Impacts of the entire area to include upstream of Steamboat Creek along with the Truckee River Flood Project and other issues. These Cumulative Impacts Studies would lead to a Cumulative Effects Study. Either one of those could trigger an EIS.
As this is going on the Corps will be consulting with all three tribes in the area and the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO). The Corps just recently received the Cultural Resources Report that is not available for FOIA and they will be reviewing that with the Tribes. They will also be consulting with Fish and Wildlife for any biological impacts.
All of this is expected to take approximately 90 - 120 days from about the first of the year. If everything goes smoothly. After that time the Corps will decide if an EIS is required, if there should be a denial or if they can approve the permit with mitigation.
December 5, 2013
The Public Hearing at Reno City Council lasted about 4 hours and the vote ended up at 4-3 in favor of granting the SUP's and Variances. The vote was:
Please see below for the public comment's submitted and read into the record by the Coalition:
Reno City Council - Public Hearing
December 4, 2013
LDC14-00015 (Southeast Connector Phase 2)
Presented by the Upper South East Communities Coalition Inc.
Good Evening. My name is Kim Rhodemyre and I am the Chair of the Upper South East Communities Coalition, which is a registered non-profit corporation comprised of members from all over the Truckee Meadows (which we consider Stakeholders), active decision making participants of six very active HOA’s and one organized subdivision that is not an HOA(these are our Working Group Members), and seven volunteer individuals approved by the Working Group who have voting power for the entire organization and they are our Board of Directors. We represent thousands of individuals.
Thank you for this opportunity to present our most concerning issues that we believe should lead to a denial of the SUP’s and Variances until these issues can be answered in a comprehensive manner. It would be no hardship on RTC for this to be denied until further review by is done by RTC so they can come back before this body and give answers to significant questions that are being raised. RTC is not in a time crunch as they do not have approvals from the Army Corps of Engineers to start on the Phase 2 portion of their project and might not for some time, and have not scheduled (pending approval from the Corp) start on Phase 2 until spring.
The Coalition supplied to the City a list of just 10 of our most critical concerns that should be answered comprehensively with document support by RTC before any SUP’s or Variances are approved. We very much hope that you follow up on those questions.
We would first like to go over one thing that is critical to everyone who bought homes in the area of this project. We had an extensive meeting the other day that included Deputy City Manager Bill Thomas, Community Development Director Fred Turnier, and Public Works Director John Flansberg and included for a time, Council woman Zadra. At that meeting Mr. Thomas made comments on our concerns about the Master Plan Abandonment of the SEC by the City of Reno in 1996, which was done by the way, at the request of the Board of Directors of the RTC whose Board had already unanimously deleted the portion between Mira Loma and Pembroke and basically, what we were told by Mr. Thomas was that when the City of Reno makes these decisions it is our fault for believing you.
He went on to compare our situation to him buying a house, and then someone coming along and putting a power pole in the easement. While I appreciate Mr. Thomas’s time, and the many fine things he has done for this city, I must respectfully disagree with his comparison as, number 1, this alignment was not in an “easement”, and the SEC is not a power pole. We have documents that show the “easements” associated with this road were also abandoned by the City of Reno to complete the removal of the project between Mira Loma and Pembroke from the Master Plan in 1998.. The comparison of putting in a power pole as being “just like” putting in a 5 mile - six lane highway on land that is designated by the City of Reno, the City of Sparks, Washoe County and the federal government as a flood storage basin for the safety of the entire Truckee Meadows, through land heavily contaminated with Methyl Mercury and Arsenic and using inadequate infrastructure to support access to this road, well, I am sure he did not mean it the way it came out. But then to compound that statement and tell the general public, us, who by the way, did their due diligence when making their home purchases by asking about this road and believing the City Council when they said it was not going to go in, that we never should have believed what you promised and these things get changed all the time and we should have expected that what was promised was only temporary.
How can RTC make General Special Use Permit finding “b” if the project is currently not in the Master Plan? Does not matter what the Regional Plan says or what the RTP says. The finding says that the project must be in substantial conformance with the Master Plan.
By the way, makes us wonder why you approved building houses in the first place and allowing seniors to move into a community to live the retirement dream of having a home on an affordable city owned golf course if you were only going to ruin people’s lives and home values and create undo burdens on them when you decided to renege on your promise of no road, and then additionally decide to put a flood project in the exact same spot and inform them you were going to give them 7 to 18 inches more of water.
So to move on, our contention is that the following findings cannot be met:
General Special Use Permit
Findings a, b, c, d, e f, and g CANNOT be met.
Special Use Permit for fill great than 10 feet
Findings a and b CANNOT be met
Special Use Permit for Protection of Significant Hydrological resources
Findings a, b c, e, f, g and h CANNOT be met
Variance to allow encroachment in a flood way and Variance to raise water surface elevations in Critical Flood Zone 1
Finding c, which states; Granting the variance will not be materially detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare or injurious to property or improvement in the vicinity…” CANNOT be met!
Additionally, how can you grant SUP’s and Variances for a project that does not have complete right of way? The SUP and Variances are all applicable to the entire project, but RTC claims that the only area where they can’t meet the “no-rise” criteria and need the Variance for raising the water surface elevation in a portion of Critical Flood Zone 1 is on the Butler Ranch. RTC does not own the Butler Ranch.
Next, the Coalition maintains that there are several other alternative routes that would meet the needs and not impact people and homes that are already severely impacted. Since RTC is already building a massive bridge over the Truckee River, why not utilize this time to build the Mill Street Extension which would be a viable alternative to the 5 miles of road through flood storage and heavily contaminated soils. In addition, a route that RTC seems to have never considered is Glendale. This street is wide enough and could easily be re-striped. The purchase and demolition of several warehouses right next to Sparks Blvd
Right there, makes 3 routes to the preferred connection point of Sparks Blvd.
These routes would by-pass the flood storage areas and the heavily contaminated soils on the Butler Ranch North and South and as the areas suggested are already industrial in nature would have no environmental impacts to mitigate.
How can RTC meet SUP for protection of significant hydrological resources – finding “h” if there are viable alternatives to the proposed project?
Next, I don’t know if you have had the opportunity to Google methyl mercury or arsenic but you really should. Most all of us have and what we have found is horrifying.
Methyl mercury is the more toxic form of mercury which affects the neurological system and may be bio-accumulated. Several studies indicate that methyl mercury is linked to subtle developmental defects in children exposed in-uteri such as loss of IQ points, and decrease performance in tests of language skills, memory function and attention deficits. Methyl mercury exposure in adults has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack.
But a chemical that is just as dangerous as methyl mercury is inorganic arsenic. This arsenic is prevalent throughout the area as shown in test done by Lennar Development in 2005 on the Butler Ranch North.
Exposure to inorganic arsenic can cause various health effects, such as irritation of the stomach and intestines, decreased production of red and white blood cells, skin changes and lung irritation. There are studies that indicate the uptake of significant amounts of inorganic arsenic can intensify the chances of cancer development, especially the chances of development of skin cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer and lymphatic cancer.
A very high exposure to inorganic arsenic can cause infertility and miscarriages with women, and it can cause skin disturbances, declined resistance to infections, heart disruptions and brain damage with both men and women.
Finally, inorganic arsenic can damage DNA.
RTC’s own Soil Characterization Report and studies done in 2005 for the Butler Ranch North Lennar development project indicate that there are very, very high levels of arsenic on that land and RTC wants to dig up the methyl mercury and use that dirt as fill for the SEC. There is no mention of the arsenic in their 404 permit application. RTC has indicated in their permit application that they are going to use BMP’s (Best Management Practices) for the control of dust during the months and months of construction. They also mention that if their employees need it they will be provided with maybe a paper suit and a dust mask. Their solution to the dust problem, according to their 404 permit which includes their Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, is careful scheduling, straw rolls and a water truck. In addition, according to your own city staff in the Memorandum released this afternoon, Washoe County Heath District does not consider emissions of contaminants for construction sites but focuses on controlling dust. So who is going to be monitoring the air for toxic dust? This memo goes on to state that there “will be” plans incorporated into the SWPPP in case it floods while they have all this toxic material dug up. But there is nothing in place yet for you to approve.
This highly toxic material can be breathed in and or be absorbed through skin contact, and their plan is to control it with scheduling, a water truck and some straw rolls. Their workers might get paper suits and dust masks. What about the surrounding residents and school? What are our safety measures from the months of moving this toxic material around? The City has told us that RTC would NOT be required to do anything if winds were over 30 mph. That is frankly insane.
What is their plan should there be a flood during their lengthy construction. We flood here. Should there not be a plan to protect the surrounding communities from the toxic material being washed into their homes? They are going to dig it up and stockpile it for undetermined amounts of time. So they are going to have heavily toxic material sitting in concentrated piles of loose dirt that could be blown around or washed away into homes and schools.
By the way, one of the more coherent questions that came from the Planning Commission several weeks ago was “What did you do in regards to the mercury in South Meadows during development?” The answer was astounding. “We didn’t know about this then”. Paraphrase. Well, you know about it now.
How can you make General SUP finding “f”, or SUP for protection of significant hydrological resources, in particular, finding “b” if these questions are not answered?
Next, the fact that the City of Reno has not hired an outside independent hydrological engineering company to evaluate RTC’s 404 permit application Appendix J, the Hydraulics and Sediment Transport Modeling Methodology before you grant these SUP and Variances, is criminal. Neither the SUP nor the Variances should be approved until 1) the Corps and FEMA approve the requested permits and supply approved map revisions, and 2) the City of Reno gets an independent hydrologist to evaluate RTC’s modeling. The Coalition hired MBK Engineers out of California, who submitted in writing to the Army Corps of Engineers that RTC’s modeling, among other things, was limited and insufficient. Example of just one of the discrepancies found is that Figure 1 from Appendix J of the 404 application and Figure 3 from the SEC Flood Analysis Memorandum show significantly different impacts. This indicates that the 1-D analysis has not been adequately calibrated to the 2-D analysis and may be underestimating the impacts in the SEC Flood Analysis Memorandum.
The other most significant factor in all of this is that the one massive infrastructure project, the Flood Project, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, does NOT factor in the other massive infrastructure project the SEC that is in the exact same location and will affect the exact same people. And visa versa. It is like they think because the other is not built yet is does not count! SOMEONE should be looking at what the impacts will be to the surrounding residents if both of these projects are completed in the exact same spot. RTC will tell you that they are consulting with the Flood Project. Great! On what? Share with the rest of us.
How can RTC meet General Special Use Permit findings “a” if no one has studied if these two projects are compatible?
Hire an outside hydrological engineer. Have them review the data and the cumulative impacts of both projects with upstream development factored in. Show us. Because frankly after years of; “no we are not going to build the road, you can buy your house,” and “we are going to build a flood project that will protect you, should be done in a few years” and “you know that road that we were not going to build, well we are going to build that road in the designated flood storage area, but it will be a small one and you will hardly know it is there”, and “we are only going to take just a little more of the designated flood storage by letting Lennar build these 1300 homes on 265 acres, but that’s it!”, and “since we are building that road, we have to sell half the golf course that was designed and built to hold flood waters for your safety and maybe are not going to put any of that back”, and “we are now going to be building this massive 6 lane road, and digging up all this contaminated soil, but you will be fine because RTC says so”, and “you know, to build that flood project we find that since we want to protect the airport and the Sparks industrial areas instead of you, we have to have your home flood more”, and “this new massive road will have all these culverts under them to equalize flood waters and since you can trust the City of Reno to keep them clean, you will be fine”, after years of this type of treatment don’t you think that the least that should be done is an independent review of RTC’s data?
Again, RTC CANNOT meet Variance finding “c” which states: Granting the variance will not be materially detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare or injurious to property or improvement in the vicinity…”
One last thing. I would like to ask, because I get many e-mails on this. What is the criteria that must be met for this body to deny? We have seen you do it on other things. We have seen you deny SUP’s and Variances for dust, lighting, parking, noise, safety and other things that are applicable to this project. Yet here we are sitting next to and on, the very last areas of flood storage, on heavily contaminated soil that RTC wants to move around, on federally protected wetlands, in communities that are now going to get more water during flood events, yet you have not denied on single thing in regards to this project. I had an e-mail last year that said “The City Council could find that we are sitting on a Chernobyl like superfund site and they would turn to staff and say, “how can we mitigate that”? So, honestly, what does it take for you to deny?
Thank you for your time.
December 2, 2013
City Council will be hearing the appeal of the approvals by PlanningCommission given to RTC for 3 SUP's and 2 Variances at 6:00 pm on December 4th. We would like to get a stong showing and please send your written comments to City Council and reference the "findings" that cannot be met that are in the Update from November 6th.
We are not sure how much time the Coalition are to get by the Mayor as appellents. It could be anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.
November 21, 2013
In the attachment below you will find the Community Working Group summary of the RTC/CH2M Hill meeting that was held October 10, 2013.
It addresses the "endowment" that RTC wants to set up for the conservation easement that is to be put in place with the Nevada Land Trust using RTC 5 funds. Voter approved funds that were specific for building and repairing roads, not funding an endowment.
November 12, 2013
The Coalition has appealed the Reno Planning Commission votes on the SUP's and the Variances that were approved on November 7th.
We have a Public Hearing Date of December 4th at 6:00 pm (not to be heard before 6:00pm) Please get there early as RTC has been bringing their labor force to fill the seats and fill out public comment forms in favor of this project. Please come if you can. We need to have a show of support for our objections.
November 7, 2013
On November 7th the Reno Planning Commission heard agenda item LDC14-00015 (Southeast Connector Phase 2)
In favor for all:
Chair Doug Coffman
Charles (Chuck) Reno
Against one Variance
Other members were not present
The Planning Commission voted yes on all 4 SUP's and for both (2) Variances. See below for the details of the requests.
The Coalition will be appealing these votes and will post the public hearing date when it is available.
November 6, 2013
A reminder of the Planning Commission Meeting tomorrow night on Thursday November 7th at 6:00 pm at City Hall. (City Hall is on Virginia and 1st Streets downtown across from the old Mapes site where the ice skating rink is put every year). You can park in the Cal Neva Parking Garage on Center Street which is right behind City Hall. If there are attendents at the entrance, don't let them charge you for parking, going to City Meetings is free parking in the garage.
We need people to show up at this meeting and at City Council when that meeting is scheduled.
BELOW IS THE CRITICAL INFORMATION FOR YOUR COMMENTS AND A LINK TO THE AGENDA AND THE STAFF REPORT.
Please tailor your comments to the "findings" in red below. We need to point out to Planning that RTC CANNOT make the findings, so if you can't come, please send an e-mail with your comments! Send to Michelle Fournier whose e-mail is also below!
RTC has a new date for appearing at the City of Reno Planning Commission. They are going to be at Planning on Thursday November 7th at 6:00 pm. YES, THURSDAY!
RTC is requesting the following:
Special Use Permit - Grading with fill more than 10 feet
Special Use Permit - Disturbance of a drainage Way
Special Use Permit - Protection of Significant Hydrological Resources
Variance - Allow encroachment in a floodway
Variance - Raise the water surface elevation in a portion of Critical Flood Zone 1.
We would really like to get a strong showing of people at Planning but it could be a long night.
If you can't come please send e-mails to:Michelle Fournierfournierm@reno.gov to make your comments. Agenda Item VII, Item 2. If e-mailing, please reference in the subject line and at the beginning of your document LDC14-00015 (Southeast Connector Phase 2)
Please be aware that the Butler Family Trust is trying to get a continuance on this as they want to study how the increase in flood waters is going to affect their PUD entitlements. RTC is claiming that all the increased flooding is only going to be on the Butler Ranch between the road and the mountain. I have no idea how they can guarantee that, but this is RTC we are talking about. Good Luck Herons Landing!
Remember everyone, RTC does not have all its right of ways for this project (Butlers have not sold to them yet) and there is a Master Plan Abandonment of this road from Mira Loma to Pembroke still in effect from 1996. Both the RTC and the City of Reno unanimously voted to delete it from the Master Plan. (copy of that plan is on our website in our public comment to the Army Corps of Engineers on the "Home" page in the lower left corner in the "exhibits". We really need a strong showing, at the very least please write to Michelle at the above e-mail!!!
At Planning Commission they are not required to look at your opinions of what should or should not be. Or take into account your feelings. They make their decisions based on what is called the "findings". When this gets to City Council, they have more latitude to consider other factors than the Planning Commission does. Please stick to the findings which I will review here:
Special Use Permit Findings:General special use permit findings
Special use permit applications shall require that all of the following general findings be met, as applicable:
a. The proposed use is compatible with existing surrounding land uses and development.
Cannot make this finding as the project is not compatible with existing surrounding land uses and development as the existing uses are residential and open space.
b. The project is in substantial conformance with the master plan.
Cannot make this finding as the project has a Master Plan Abandonment from 1996 that is still in effect.
c. There are or will be adequate services and infrastructure to support the proposed development.Cannot make this finding as there is no adequate infrastructure to support this proposed project as Pembroke and Mira Loma are not adequate to handle the significant increase in traffic.
d. The proposal adequately mitigates the projects traffic impacts and provides a safe pedestrian environment.
Cannot make this finding as the proposed project does not adequately mitigate traffic impacts and creates a significant danger to pedestrians/cyclists on Mira Loma and Pembroke
e. The proposed site location and scale, intensity, density, height, layout, setbacks, architectural and overall design of the development and the uses proposed, contribute to an enhance the character of the area in which it is located.
Cannot make this finding as the proposed project will significantly change the environment in which it is planned and is NOT in keeping with the character of the area in which it is located.
f. The project does not create adverse environmental impacts such as smoke, noise, glare, dust, vibrations, fumes, pollution or odor which would be detrimental to, or constitute a nuisance to area properties.
Cannot make this finding and I believe the reasons are obvious
g. Project signage is in character with project architecture and is compatible with or complementary to surrounding uses.
Cannot make this finding as there is no existing signage so any signage will not be complementary to surrounding areas.
Cannot make findings a - g for the General SUP
Special Use Permit for cut slopes of 20 feet or greater in depth or fill slopes ten feet or greater
General special use permit finding and the following specific findings shall apply:
a. The slopes can be treated in a manner which does not create negative visual impacts.
Cannot make this finding as with slopes greater than ten feet impacts will be negative the entire length of the project and will have significant visual impacts. Some areas will have only concrete visuals as these areas are slated to "sequester" heavily contaminated soil that has methyl mercury.
b. The grading is necessary to provide safe and adequate access to the development.
Cannot make this finding as the grading has not been proven to not significantly effect the "no-rise" criteria and may increase flood surface elevations in the entire region.
Cannot make the findings for a - g of the General list or a - b in the specific findings.
Special Use Permit for protection of significant hydrological resources as required int he Cooperative Planning Area Overlay District.
General special use permit findings shall apply and the following specific review considerations shall be addressed:
a. Conservation of topsoil
Cannot make this finding as a significant amount of the topsoil is heavily contaminated with Methyl Mercury and is proposed to be used as fill, therefore top soil will have to be brought into project.
b. Protection of surface water quality
Cannot make this finding as they indicate in their permit that they are going to increase the sediment load to Steamboat Creek
c. Conservation of natural vegetation, wildlife habitats and fisheriesd. Control of erosione. Control of drainage and sedimentation
Cannot make this finding as they state in their permit that they are going to increase the sediment load in Steamboat Creek
f. Provision for restoration of the project site to pre-development conditionsg. Provision of a bonding program to secure performance of requirement imposed; and
Cannot make this finding. As far as we are aware they have indicated in their permit that the "after build" responsible party will have to acquire the funding to maintain RTC's extensive remediation plan of this area, and it is unclear who is going to be responsible at this time.
h. Preservation of the hydrological resources, character of the area and other conditions as necessary
Cannot make this finding as they are totally changing the character of the area and are potentially making Steamboat Creek worse.
Cannot make the findings of a - g of the General list and cannot make the findings of a, b, e, g and h of the significant hydrological resources list.
Findings: 1). In order to approve a variance, the recommending or deciding body shall make the following findings:
a. The property is characterized by an extraordinary or exceptional situation or condition, such as exceptional narrowness, shallowness or shape, or it has exceptional topographic condidions at the time of enactment of the regulations;
b. The strict application of the regulation would result in peculiar and exceptional practical difficulties to, or exceptional and undue hardships upon, the owner of the property;
c. Granting of the variance will not be materially detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare or injurious to property or improvements in the vicinity; and
Cannot make this finding as the entire project will be detrimental to the public heath, safety and welfare to property in the vicinity (digging up and relocating Methyl Mercury, increase in flood elevations in certain areas of 1 1/2 feet (remember they do not have their "no-rise" certification), increase in flood insurance costs for those that have this insurance, requiring flood insurance to new areas, loss of home values and loss of premiums paid for "view" lots.
d. The proposed variance is consistent with the intent and purpose of this title.
2). In granting variances, the decision-making body shall have no power to take action which has the effect of allowing a use of land in contravention of the applicable zoning district or which in any other way changes the applicable zoning district. Any action that has in effect changed the zoning district shall be deemed a violation of powers of this section and be of no force and effect.
I have to look into this as I think they did change the zoning in the right of ways specifically for this project. I will have to get back to you, or if someone has some information on this please let me know.
4). Where the variance pertains to an application marked as a First Amendment application by the applicant, the planning commission shall consider the following in lieu of subsection (1)(c): Granting the variance will not be materially detrimental to property or improvement in the vicinity.
Be wary and prepared for this.....see below.
In approving a variance the decision making body may require conditions under which the lot or parcel may be used, or the building constructed, which, int he decision making body's opinion, will prevent material damage or prejudice to adjacent properties, and provide suitable safeguards to the public health, safety and general welfare. These conditions may include:
1). Architectural considerations;
2). Access provisions;
3). Off-street parking;
4). Landscaping requirements; or
5). Other controls
All conditions must be satisfied and violation of the conditions shall result in revocation of the permission granted by the variance. Further use shall constitute a violation of this chapter and shall be enforceable under Chapter 1.05 of the Reno Municipal Code. Cannot make finding c for the Variance.
October 22, 2013
A date for the "Protect the Protection" Raffle has been set for January 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm at the Rosewood Lakes Clubhouse.
Please check out the wonderful prizes that have been donated to our cause on the Raffle Prizes tab. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchase beginning completion of our permit process with the Nevada Gaming Board. We will let everyone know when tickets can start being sold!
October 17, 2013
The Coalition's public comment was delivered on time to the Army Corps of Engineers for their review. You can see a copy of that comment on the "Home" page at the bottom left corner. In addition, our legal team delivered their legal public comment on behalf of the Coalition which can be found under the "Legal"tab for your review.
October 12, 2013
Thank you to everyone who came out to our "It's Not a Done Deal" Rally today. We passed out almost two hundred flyers, had some last minute petition signers, and collected some donations!
October 8, 2013
The City of Reno Planning Commission has, at RTC's request, postponed the agenda item for the October 16th meeting apparently because it was identified that there was another variance that RTC had to apply for for Critical Flood Zone 1. The new date for their appearance at Planning is November 7th. Please check back for updates.
October 4, 2013
RTC is to be at Planning Commission on October 16, 2013 to try and get the following
Special Use Permit - Grading with fill more than 10 feet
Special Use Permit - Disturbance of a drainage way
Special Use Permit - Protection of Significant Hydrological Resources
Variance - Disturbance of a floodway
Planning Commission is at City Hall downtown (free parking at the Cal Neva Parking Garage) they meet at 6:00 pm. It is our understanding that there are several other things on the agenda so this could be a long night.
If you cannot make Planning, please e-mail your comments to the commission through
September 24, 2013
Due to the significant number of delays in our legal fight to get a preliminary injunction on Phase 1 until the permits are issued for Phase 2, and the fact that Regional Transportation Commission would be almost 60% done with Phase 1 before we get to court, the Board of Directors and the Working Group met about 8 days ago to revisit this issue and to decide what we need to do from here. Our legal fight on Phase I was always a strategic move for Phase 2. Of the three things we were trying to get in our legal fight on Phase 1, we have two of the three. The only thing we don't have is the preliminary injunction.
We got these two critical things out of the litigation:
1. Assurances that Corps won’t use Phase 1 against us in Phase 2. (see below)
“[T]he Corps’ review of the SEC Phase 2 would not be constrained by the construction of the SEC Phase 1. The consideration of alternatives will not be limited to those that connect with the bridge and roadway build during Phase 1, and the fact that RTC will have invested substantial resources will not be a factor in the consideration of alternatives.”
2. Statements from RTC that Phase 1 could connect to Mill street instead of continuing on down the Phase 2 alignment.
So in order to start gearing up and re-targeting our resources on the most critical fight, Phase 2, we decided to work on a settlement for Phase 1. We instructed legal to start discussions and our legal team discussed a formal settlement agreement with the Corps and RTC but counsel on all sides decided that a formal agreement was not necessary. Instead, we will be dismissing Phase 1 “without prejudice”—meaning, there is no concession on our part that we were wrong on the law.
Negotiations included and we got: 1). the Corps, following our renewed request for more time, extended the comment period on the Phase 2 application, and has been working cooperatively with us to provide us a timeline for decisionmaking (no final decision before December 15). So the Corps will NOT have a decision on the permit before December 15th! 2). Counsel for RTC has also agreed with our legal conclusion that RTC cannot recover its attorneys’ fees or costs against USECC for the Phase 1 litigation once it is dismissed. 3). RTC and the Corps agreed to get us the "Flood Memo" once it becomes available at no charge and without having to go through FOIA (Freedom of Information Act).
Again, this is not part of a formal settlement agreement, but is the result of our continued efforts and perseverance.
We are NOT done. Remember, our efforts in our fight on phase 1 has left us in a great position in our fight on phase 2. We are now going to shift our focus and resources onto Phase 2 with the concessions we attained in our fight on Phase 1.
Our legal team will continue to work to help us through monitoring the Corps with any legal paperwork and guide us in our efforts to make sure that RTC is required to do an Environmental Impact Statement on the Phase 2 portion of the project.
We have made huge leaps on our fight of Phase 2, through what we did, and got, in our litigation of Phase I.
September 14, 2013
Critical Upper South East Communities Coalition Board and Working Group meeting held. Legal decisions made on behalf of the Coalition.
September 6, 2013
Army Corps of Engineers files Opposition Brief in U.S. Federal Court
September 5, 2013
Regional Transportation Commission files it Opposition Brief in U.S. Federal Court
August 30, 2013
Upper South East Communities Coalition was informed that U.S. District Court Judge Hicks, assigned to our case has recused himself and a new U.S. District Court Judge Du has been assigned and changed court date from September 21st to October 21st. This is 3rd delay.
August 24, 2013
Yvonne "Squeaks" Nordmeyer fundraising event "Beer and Wine in the Cul de Sac" held. Great turnout and significant contacts made. The Upper South East Communtities Coalition fundraising efforts did well. Many great questions and comments.
August 23, 2013
Board Member Kim Rhodemyre gives deposition at offices of RTC counsel. Upper South East Communities Coalition attorney Joseph Petta comes from San Francisco to attend as legal counsel for the USECC
August 19, 2013
Regional Transportation Commission files a motion to dismiss the case that the Upper South East Communities Coalition filed in U.S. Federal Court. Opposition Brief from the RTC and the Army Corps of Engineers expected soon.
August 17, 2013
The Upper South East Communities Coalition talked to almost 800 people at the Hidden Valley Yard Sale and distributed the same number of flyers informing people of our cause and gave information on what is happening to several hundred who were very interested in our cause. We got a great response and over 100 signatures on our petition!
August 2, 2013
The USECC's (Upper South East Communities Coalition)legal team has served and will file in U.S. District Court early next week our Motion for Preliminary Injunction on the Army Corps of Engineers and the Regional Transportation Commission in the second step of our process to get a Preliminary Injunction on the Southeast Connector until they get their required 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to include an Environmental Impact Statement and a Cumulative Impact Study for the entire project. Check out our "Legal"tab.
July 29, 2013
The USECC's (Upper South East Communities Coalition)legal team has served and filed our Complaint with U.S. District Court against the Army Corps of Engineers and the Regional Transportation Commission of Reno as a first step in the process to get a Preliminary Injunction on the Southeast Connector until they get their required 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to include an Environmental Impact Statement and a Cumulative Impact Study for the entire project. Check out our "Legal"tab.
July 23, 2013
The Army Corps of Engineers has accepted the 404 permit filed by RTC. Public comment on permit due by September 23 rd.
July 19, 2013
Today the RTC (Regional Transportation Commission) has filed for their 404b permit with the Army Corps of Engineers for what is being called Phase II of the Southeast Connector Road Project. This notice has been sent to legal and we are being told that RTC will have their permit up on their website by next week. If you don't see it by next week, please start calling:
Administration - 775-348-0400
Engineering - 775-348-0171
and ask where it is. The USECC (Upper South East Communities Coalition) will be actively pursuing a copy to put on our website and to review for our public comment. The Corps has stated that they will not have time to review it until at least July 25th or 26th to see if it is complete. If it is, then public comment should start shortly after, if it is not, then they will kick it back to RTC.
Please look under "Events" to see where you can come and sign our petition asking the Corp to require RTC to complete an Environmental Impact Study for this project which will be included in the public comment supplied by the USECC.
July 12, 2013 - TIME SENSITIVE! Must have all signatures by the 3rd week of August!
Please look for our booth or members of the USECC (Upper South East Communities Coalition) at various events to sign our petition for the Army Corps of Engineers in conjunction with our public comment for the upcoming 404 permit that RTC (Regional Transportation Commission) is planning on filing in July.
We are demanding that, at the very least, an EIS (Environmental Impact Study) is required for this entire project, and that cumulative impacts are considered for the entire Truckee River and the entire Steamboat Creek.
We could use all the signatures we can get so make a point to come and sign at any upcoming public event!
Our Petition for the Army Corps of Engineers is now available to sign. We need in person signatures, so please visit any of our location advertised events to sign, or contact us through the website to arrange a meet to get your signature!
If you would like to volunteer to gather signatures in your neighborhood, please contact us to arrange.
We are off to a great start collecting signatures but we need as many as possible in a short amount of time. Contact us today!
June 28, 2013,
We have been told by the Army Corps of Engineers that it is at least 7 inches more water south of the river and east of McCarran, and they plan to raise up over 760 houses, several apartment complexes and a handful of businesses in this area.
The Truckee River Flood Management Authority, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers (Corps), hosted two public meetings to discuss the results of reevaluating the
Truckee Meadows Flood Control Project, authorized by Congress in 1988, and accepted
questions and comments on the draft general reevaluation report (GRR) and draft
environmental impact statement (EIS) until July 7th.
Copies of the draft GRR and EIS are now available on the Corps’ Sacramento
In addition, a CD copy is available from the Corps upon request. For any questions or if you would like to receive a copy contact Mr. Tyler Stalker, Public Affairs Specialist, at (916) 557-5100 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
May 29, 2013
The USECC (Upper South East Communities Coalition) has served its Notice of Intent to RTC (Regional Transportation Commission) to halt construction on what they are calling "Phase I" of the Southeast Connector until they have all environmental permits, in particular an Environmental Impact Statement, for the entire project to protect all the communities in the region.