News Release Archive

Public Safety Key Factor as Reclamation and Truckee-Carson Irrigation District Develop Plan For Repair of Canal Break

Media Contact: Jeffrey McCracken, 916-978-5100, 01/08/2008 00:13

For Release: January 08, 2008

In response to the breach of a portion of the Truckee Canal embankment near Fernley, Nevada, on January 5, 2008, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District are developing a permanent repair for the area of the breach.  In the meantime, no water will be diverted into the Truckee Canal until Reclamation has determined it is safe to do so. "Public safety will be the key factor in determining when to resume diversions," stated Betsy Rieke, Lahontan Basin Area Manager for Reclamation. 

The Truckee Carson Irrigation District operates and maintains the Truckee Canal, a feature of the Newlands Project which is owned by the Bureau of Reclamation.  The Truckee Canal carries water from the Truckee River to the Fernley and Fallon areas for agricultural and wetlands purposes.

Ernie Schank, President of the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, said he concurs with Reclamation that public safety is important.  He added: "In this difficult time for the Fernley community, I want to thank all the people who have come to the aid of those affected by the breach."  The District and Reclamation will be consulting with the City of Fernley on the decisions that must be made.  The Mayor of Fernley, Todd Cutler, stated:  "We are looking for protection for our community" for assurance that the canal as a whole is safe for our community." 

Reclamation and the District will proceed as follows to select and implement a long-term solution for the embankment breach.

  • Determine options for the long-term solution.  The options will be developed through engineering analyses, including analyses of technical information from staff in the field.  Those analyses will be performed by Reclamation technical staff in the Carson City and Sacramento offices and by Reclamation's Technical Services Center experts in Denver.
  • Review the options.  Reclamation and the District will work together to identify an appropriate option for the permanent repair. 
  • Prepare a proposed plan to implement the selected option.  The District will prepare the proposed plan and Reclamation will work with the District to develop a final plan.
  • Implement the plan.  The District will implement the plan in consultation with Reclamation.  The decision on resuming diversions, to allow inflow from the Truckee River into the canal, will be made by Reclamation; Reclamation will work closely with the District and the City in making that decision.

The breach of the Truckee Canal occurred at approximately 4:30 a.m., Saturday, January 5, 2008, and was approximately 50 feet in width.  The breach caused flooding of about 350 homes in the City of Fernley, located about 30 miles east of Reno, Nevada.  No injuries were reported.  The breach was sealed by the District at approximately 4:00 p.m., Saturday, and the District patrolled the breach area through the night.  The cause of the breach is under investigation.

TCID has been operating wasteways, spillways, and nearby lateral canals in concert to drain the canal and ensure that additional water exiting the canal in the breach area will be minimized. 

For additional information, please contact Jeffrey McCracken at the Mid-Pacific Region's Public Affairs Office at 916-978-5100.

# # #

Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.