FERNLEY, Nev. – Construction on the Truckee Canal Public Safety Improvement Project began in earnest this past week with Phase 1 of a multi-phased project to restore the safe, long-term operation of the Truckee Canal. The project, funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and implemented in collaboration with the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, includes concrete lining approximately 3.5 miles of the earthen canal in the most vulnerable stretch in the City of Fernley. The project will significantly increase public safety and improve water supply reliability.
Owned by the United States and operated and maintained by the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, the Truckee Canal is one of the Bureau of Reclamation’s oldest projects. The 31-mile-long canal provides water for more than 50,000 acres of farmland, wildlife, and communities in western Nevada. The earthen canal breached in January 2008 resulting in an uncontrolled water release that caused flooding and damage to properties in the City of Fernley. The doubling in size of the City of Fernley’s population since the breach increases the importance of the project to the community.
“We recognize the impact of the canal outage this irrigation season,” said Reclamation’s Lahontan Basin Area Office Manager Jack Worsley. “However, the long-term public safety benefits to our local community are needed now and will last for decades to come. We must look to the future and improve our aging water infrastructure now for generations to follow.”
“This canal is the lifeblood of Lahontan Valley, Fernley, and surrounding areas,” said Truckee-Carson Irrigation District Board President Eric Olsen at the Nov. 4 groundbreaking ceremony. “Without it, life would be radically different. The importance of this canal is as critical as the very air that we breathe.”
In May 2022, $35 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was announced as part of the first package to restore aging water infrastructure in the West. The inclusion of the Truckee Canal Public Safety Project in the first round of aging infrastructure funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law emphasizes the need to get this project completed.
Formally referred to as “extraordinary maintenance” under Reclamation policy, the project is ultimately a public safety project and will be referred to as the “Truckee Canal Public Safety Improvement Project” to better underscore why the project is being implemented. During the 18-month construction period, the Canal will be temporarily dewatered for a portion of this time and no water deliveries will be made from the Canal during the 2023 irrigation season.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $8.3 billion to Reclamation over five years to fund aging infrastructure projects, water efficiency and recycling programs, rural water projects, and WaterSMART grants to ensure that irrigators, Tribes, and communities receive adequate assistance and support.
To learn more about the project visit the Truckee Canal Public Safety Improvement Project webpage.