More than 200 northern Nevada flood victims will now be paid for damages suffered when a century-old irrigation canal burst and sent a wall of water into their homes in 2008. Fortunately, no one was killed or seriously injured, but 590 homes in Fernley were flooded when water burst through a 50-foot breach in the canal’s earthen embankment in January of 2008. A 2-foot-tall wave swamped the neighborhood and water collected eight feet deep in some parts of the rural town, which is located 30 miles east of Reno. It was reported that more than a dozen residents were rescued from rooftops by helicopter, while others were taken to safety by boats.
Judy Kroshus, the director of a tribal health service resource center in Fernley, is the lead Plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit. The local irrigation district has agreed to settle all claims for $18.1 million. The aging, 31-mile canal is a key component of the nation’s first federal reclamation project, started in 1903. It’s owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, but managed by the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District. The bureau concluded within two months of the breach that burrowing rodents had weakened the canal, causing it to fail.
In July 2012, a federal jury returned a verdict during the liability phase of the trial finding the district’s history of negligence in maintaining the canal was primarily to blame. Soon thereafter, the district agreed to a $10-million settlement, but then backed out. The damages phase of the trial was scheduled to resume two months ago, but the district agreed to the new settlement terms after its members voted in February to raise money to finance the damage award by selling off some water rights to the Truckee Meadows Water Authority.
Judge Lloyd George approved the settlement on March 31. A similar rupture in the same vicinity had flooded 60 homes in December 1996. The $18.1 million settlement includes about $7.8 million in attorney fees and expenses. Nobody in the class objected to that part of the settlement.
Source: Las Vegas Sun
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