Officials: No immediate danger from reported Van Norden Dam damage | SierraSun.com

Officials: No immediate danger from reported Van Norden Dam damage

Submitted to the Sierra Sun

Officials responding to reports of damage to the Lake Van Norden Dam’s spillway on Donner Summit found no signs of immediate danger on Tuesday, a news release states.

First reported to the property owner — the Truckee Donner Land Trust — by a Donner Summit resident on Tuesday morning, Land Trust staff immediately contacted the California Department of Water Resources’ Division of Safety of Dams (the State agency that regulates jurisdictional dams including Lake Van Norden Dam) and Nevada County, which joined Land Trust staff and their engineer on site to evaluate the structure.

“We have been assured there is no immediate threat from the damage,” said Perry Norris, executive director of the Land Trust, after an on-site assessment with state and county officials. “We are working with DWR’s Division of Safety of Dams, and local engineers to divert the flow over the spillway away from the damaged portion.”

According to the release, work to divert water away from the damaged area is now underway to further assess the situation and determine an appropriate interim repair. Officials onsite are keeping Nevada County Sheriff’s apprised of the situation.

The Land Trust has been working to address issues with the dam for eight years. A plan to lower the dam height — designed to both mitigate safety concerns and to prevent the impoundment of water for which water rights do not exist — is set to go before Nevada County for approval later this year after an extensive environmental review process.

The dam was constructed in the late 1800s and notched by PG&E in the 1970s. The Division of Safety of Dams last inspected Van Norden Dam in October of 2018 as part of its annual inspections.

The Land Trust took ownership of the dam as part of the 3,000-acre acquisition of Royal Gorge in 2012, preserving open space previously slated for a proposed 950-unit resort development.

Source: Truckee Donner Land Trust