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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com.
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! |