Trout Creek may get fixed starting in the fall |

Trout Creek may get fixed starting in the fall

Courtesy photoTrout Creek floods Assumption Catholic Church in Truckee on Dec. 31, 2005. A restoration project is underway to prevent flooding in the area around the creek.

Work to restore Trout Creek to a more natural state is anticipated to start this fall.

The flooding that occurred in December 2005 and in January 1997 at Assumption Catholic Church on East Street, where Trout Creek runs under Donner Pass Road through a too-small cement culvert, highlighted the need to get the restoration project plans underway.

“This is getting old,” Father Stanley Poltorak, from Assumption Catholic Church, said about the recent flooding.

Pat Perkins, Town of Truckee senior civil engineer, said the town has completed the design stage for the creek restoration and sent out the proposed construction plans for contractor bids on Monday. The plans still need to be submitted to the town council, he said.

There are six reaches, or phases, in a three-mile stretch of the creek project that will be rehabilitated in two to five years, said Lisa Wallace, Truckee River Watershed Council executive director. She said the first reach starts near the Bank of the West downtown and flows in consecutive reaches to where the creek meets the Truckee River.

Overall, the banks of Trout Creek will be re-graded and widened to allow a larger area for water to spread. Restoring the creek will allow for healthier soil and vegetation and will slow the flow of the water, Wallace said.

The first section of work will begin with construction of a larger cement culvert that will redirect the waterway that starts near Jibboom Street. Wallace said the town is funding the first two phases of construction with the help of a $350,000 grant from the Urban Streams Restoration Program, affiliated with the California Department of Water Resources. She said the Watershed Council is optimistic it will find the funding needed through state grants for the remainder of the restoration project, estimated to be about $2.7 million.

Mitch Clarin owns three parcels along Trout Creek. He said he was told the project could take up to 10 years to finish.

“I’m concerned that there are no plans to complete it,” Clarin said.

The plans to divert the creek away from the church will help to prevent flooding, but Clarin said he is troubled with the balloon track that pinches the creek, causing more flooding. He said the town should wait for the Union Pacific Railroad’s response in dealing with the bottleneck issue in the area.

Perkins said the first phase of construction has a 60-day working contract that is scheduled to be finished by October. He said the water levels are at their lowest in the fall making it a good time to begin work.

Wallace said the existing culvert is too small and designed too straight, creating an unnatural flow of water.

“When you’re doing that you’re increasing the force of water,” she said. “It chokes up at a culvert and causes erosion.”

Wallace said the culvert turn at the corner of Bank of the West is at a 90 degree angle. She said the plans to decrease the angle at which the water flows will give the creek more room, as the water levels tend to fluctuate during the winter months.

Poltorak said he has experienced both of the floods that caused thousands of dollars of damage to church facilities. Last December the creek flooded the parking lot and into the basement where the church’s priest resides. He said three feet of water forced the church to rip up the flooring and replace the insulation at a cost of $30,000, which was covered by insurance.

“They know what needs to be done,” Poltorak said. “It’s just doing it.”

Wallace said the Watershed Council understands the flooding problems many property owners have experienced. The first phase of construction will take care of a substantial portion of the flooding the church has had to deal with twice. However, the beneficial results of the creek restoration won’t be finalized until all six reaches are addressed.

– Lisa Wallace, Truckee River Watershed Council, said there will be public meetings some time in October and November to discuss the design plans for the 2 1/2 mile creek stretch not included in the upcoming phase of construction.

– Wallace said the Watershed Council has been working with property owners and the Union Pacific Railroad to expand the floodplain.

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