TRFMA implements projects to reduce flood impacts and restore the Truckee River. The agency provides technical support to local governments, planners and developers. TRFMA monitors river flow conditions and assists emergency managers during flood events.
The Truckee River Flood Management Authority (TRFMA) is a joint effort among the cities of Reno and Sparks, Washoe County, and numerous other stakeholders to reduce the devastating impacts of flooding along the Truckee River in Washoe County, Nevada.
TRFMA is responsible for implementing the Truckee River Flood Management Project (Flood Project), which involves planning, designing, and constructing flood impact reduction projects and ecosystem restoration projects along the Truckee River. In addition, TRFMA works with the jurisdictions to maintain existing flood protection infrastructure along the river.
TRFMA has developed complex hydraulic models and mapping products that are used not only to inform the Flood Project designs, but also to assist local governments with floodplain planning and review of proposed development projects.
In cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey, National Weather Service, and other partners, TRFMA operates and maintains a network of streamflow and precipitation gages to monitor conditions and evaluate potential flooding throughout the watershed. TRFMA provides technical and logistical support to regional emergency responders during actual flood events.
| Current Work
TRFMA is currently focused on the Vista Narrows Floodplain Terracing Project, which is the key element of the larger Flood Project. The authority is working with stakeholders to develop downstream mitigation options. TRFMA has developed hydraulic models to inform the Flood Project designs and provide a technical resource for community planning and emergency response purposes. TRFMA operates and maintains the Flood Warning System gage network and provides technical assistance regarding flood risk to local governments and regional emergency managers. The Home Elevation Program managed by TRFMA continues to offer qualified homeowners an opportunity to decrease flood risk and increase property value. TRFMA staffs are also involved in efforts to increase flood awareness, manage water resources, and promote environmental stewardship of the Truckee River.
Vista Narrows Floodplain Terracing Project
The Vista Narrows Floodplain Terracing Project will restore a degraded and incised reach of the Truckee River by reconnecting the river to its floodplain, creating 13 acres of wetlands, and improving habitat for native fish and wildlife. Three floodplain terraces will be excavated to allow frequent inundation, improve connectivity to groundwater, and support native plant species. The floodplain terraces will also function as nonstructural flood protection infrastructure to decrease flood risk upstream by alleviating backwater flooding in the Truckee Meadows. Flood flows are currently constrained by the narrow entrance to the Truckee River at Vista. Excavation of the floodplain terraces at Vista Narrows would remove the constriction, allowing flow to move rapidly through the project reach during flood events. The project is currently at 65% design and TRFMA is working to secure the necessary regulatory permits and approvals for implementation. The agency is working closely with downstream stakeholders, including the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and Storey County, to develop acceptable mitigation measures for the project. Construction of the terraces is anticipated to begin in Fall 2024 and will take 1-2 years to complete, followed by a 3-year vegetation establishment period.
View / download Vista Narrows Floodplain Terracing Project Fact Sheet
Wadsworth Bridge Mitigation
Known flooding issues exist at Wadsworth, Nevada. During high flow events, flooding occurs at a mobile home park and other nearby homes, as well as a quarry just downstream. Because of these problems, TRFMA commissioned a 2-dimensional hydraulic model of the area and found that the Flood Project increases peak flow and exacerbates the problem. A preliminary design was developed to study alternative solutions to this problem, including a possible levee, floodwall, and bridge replacement. Results from the alternatives study revealed that replacing the bridge was the best solution to mitigate the increase in flows caused by the Flood Project. The TRFMA Board of Directors authorized staff to move forward with the bridge replacement project immediately, without waiting for the Vista Narrows permitting process to be completed. The Wadsworth Bridge Mitigation Project is currently in the design and permitting phase; construction may begin later in 2023 (contingent on the issuance of required permits).
TRFMA and its consultants have developed several hydraulic models of the Truckee Meadows and lower Truckee River. These models are being used to inform the designs of the Flood Project. Results from the modeling effort are being submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of a proposed Physical Map Revision for the Truckee River (see below).
Model outputs are also being used to create a series of simulated flood inundation maps to provide technical, science-based tools for emergency managers and first responders. Information on the potential extent and severity of flooding can assist with prioritizing resources and flood fighting during an emergency (e.g., road closures, emergency routes, evacuations, temporary shelter locations).
FEMA Physical Map Revision
TRFMA recently submitted (March 15, 2023) documentation to FEMA requesting a Physical Map Revision for the Truckee River. If approved, this effort would update the FEMA floodplain modeling and mapping for the Truckee River, Steamboat Creek, and North Truckee Drain in the Greater Truckee Meadows Region, Nevada; as well as the Truckee River Lower Reach, which extends from Vista downstream to Wadsworth, Nevada. The goal is to help future planners and developers ensure that proper design and mitigation is completed for structures proposed for construction in or near the floodplain.
Flood Warning System
TRFMA operates and maintains 10 streamflow and 2 precipitation gages in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). TRFMA contributes about $130K and USGS contributes around $58K per year for this. TRFMA manages the network, provides technical assistance to emergency managers during flood events, and periodically updates the Flood Warning Plan. Network partners and stakeholders include the U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Washoe County, City of Sparks, City of Reno, and others.
View / download Flood Warning System.
Voluntary Home Elevation Program
TRFMA established and continues to manage a voluntary program to provide financial assistance to eligible homeowners in Hidden Valley, Eastside Subdivision, and Rosewood Lakes wishing to raise their homes to the 100-year flood elevation (minimum). Funding for the program comes from federal FEMA grants that are matched locally by TRFMA. Eligible homeowners can receive up to 100% grant funding that is exempt from income tax, resulting in significant benefits in terms of flood risk reduction and increased property value. However, the program has experienced some grant funding delays as well as difficulty in finding qualified engineers and contractors to complete the work. A total of four homes have been elevated since the program was established in 2011.
TRFMA is involved in the One Truckee River effort to manage, protect, and provide stewardship for the Truckee River across jurisdictional boundaries. Visit onetruckeeriver.org for more information on this collaborative endeavor.
TRFMA is a voting member of the Northern Nevada Water Planning Commission (NNWPC), a technical advisory group that develops and periodically updates a Comprehensive Regional Water Management Plan for adoption by the Western Regional Water Commission.
TRFMA is also a key partner in the Nevada Flood Awareness Campaign, which is intended to “create flood resilient communities in Nevada that encourage the protection of life, property, water quality, environmental values and the preservation of natural floodplain functions.”
| Completed Work
TRFMA has completed several flood risk management elements of the Flood Project, including replacement of the Virginia Street Bridge, construction of a levee/floodwall at the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, and relocation of the North Truckee Drain.
Working alongside The Nature Conservancy and numerous other local, state, and federal agencies and non-profit organizations, TRFMA has implemented a series of ecosystem restoration projects in the lower Truckee River at Lockwood, Mustang Ranch, Tracy Power Plant, and 102 Ranch. Recreational amenities were constructed at Lockwood and RSIC.
Through its land acquisition program, TRFMA has purchased (from willing sellers) twelve key properties (approximately 126 acres) located in areas of high flood risk designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. More than 40 tenants (local businesses) were relocated from these flood-prone properties. TRFMA also demolished six repetitive loss structures.
Virginia Street Bridge Replacement
The existing bridge located at Virginia Street in downtown Reno was removed and a new, hydraulically efficient bridge capable of passing the 100-year flood flow (2’ freeboard) was constructed in its place. Construction was completed in 2016. Total cost: approximately $26.1 million. TRFMA contribution: $13.1 million. Visit qdconstruction.com for more information on the project, including several time-lapse videos of the construction. To learn more about the history of the Virginia Street Bridge, visit renohistorical.org.
Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Levee
and Floodwall Construction
A levee and floodwall system (approximately 2,300 feet) was constructed at the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony property located along the south bank of the Truckee River, from US Highway 395/I-580 to Glendale Avenue. This project also included construction of a multiuse recreational pathway along the river and landscaping to enhance the area. Construction was completed in 2009. Total cost: Approximately $5.8 million. TRFMA contribution: $1.8 million. TRFMA received two awards for the RSIC project: the American Public Works Association Project of the Year for the Environment for the State of Nevada; and the American Society of Civil Engineers Project of the Year for the Environment for Northern Nevada.
View / download RSIC Levee / Floodwall Construction Project Fact Sheet
North Truckee Drain Relocation
In Sparks, the existing North Truckee Drain (mostly via buried concrete box culverts) was relocated to move its confluence with the Truckee River to a location downstream of the Steamboat Creek confluence. The project was constructed in three phases and completed in 2018 (visit qdconstruction.com for more info). The new alignment allows stormwater to be delivered east of Vista Boulevard, thereby reducing flooding in the Sparks Industrial area. Total cost: approximately $40 million. TRFMA contribution: $4.75 million. The City of Sparks received an award for the project from the Nevada Chapter of the American Public Works Association based on service to the public, community need, intricacy of design, aesthetic value, difficulty of construction, and sustainability.
Lockwood Ecosystem Restoration
and Recreational Trailhead
This project restored approximately 0.6 miles of river channel and created approximately 37 acres of native habitat. The project also included construction of a recreational trailhead to improve recreational access along the Truckee River. Construction was completed in 2009. Revegetation phase from 2010-2012. Total cost: approximately $3.8 million (including trailhead construction). TRFMA contribution: $392,000 in 1/8-cent sales tax funds to purchase the Monday Property and demolish existing structures located in the floodplain.
Lower Mustang Ranch Ecosystem Restoration
This project restored approximately 2.5 miles of river channel and created approximately 187 acres of native habitat. Construction was completed in 2009. Revegetation phase from 2010-2012. Total cost: approximately $7.9 million. TRFMA contribution: $1.675 million in AB-5 grant funds for project construction.
Tracy Power Plant Ecosystem Restoration
This project restored approximately 2.5 miles of river channel and created approximately 115 acres of native habitat. Phase I construction was completed in 2013. The revegetation phase is ongoing. Total cost: approximately $4.1 million. Land easement value: approximately $5.6 million (contributed in-kind by NV Energy). TRFMA contribution: $1.75 million in 1/8-cent sales tax funds for project planning, design, and construction.
102 Ranch Ecosystem Restoration
This project restored approximately 2.0 miles of the river channel and created approximately 114 acres of native habitat. Construction was completed in 2008. Revegetation phase from 2009-2011. Total cost: approximately $5.6 million. TRFMA contribution: $3.1 million in AB-5 grant funds for project construction.
View / download Ecosystem Restoration Projects Fact Sheet
- Virginia Street Bridge Replacement
- Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Levee
and Floodwall Construction
- North Truckee Drain Relocation
- Lockwood Ecosystem Restoration and Recreational Trailhead
- Lower Mustang Ranch Ecosystem Restoration
- Tracy Power Plant Ecosystem Restoration
- 102 Ranch Ecosystem Restoration