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Senate approves bill to help fund Truckee Meadows flood project

The Truckee River runs through downtown Reno. (Daniel Rothberg/The Nevada Independent)

The Senate approved legislation to help improve the nation’s water infrastructure, which included a provision authorizing $181 million to help protect against flooding around the Truckee Meadows region in Northern Nevada.

The measure was approved on a 99-1 vote, with both Republican Sen. Dean Heller and Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto voting for the package. The bill now heads to President Donald Trump to sign into law, possibly before the end of the week. The House approved the bill in September, with the support of the entire Nevada House delegation.

The legislation ensures that the funds can be appropriated in future spending bills for Truckee River Flood Management Authority (TRFMA), which is responsible for oversight and implementation of the Truckee River Flood Management Project, a plan designed to control flooding and manage floodplains.

The provision was lauded by both Heller and Cortez Masto.

“I realize how important this project is for our community being from Northern Nevada myself, which is why I worked to secure funding for it in the reconciled water infrastructure legislation,” Heller said in a release.

“Northern Nevada faces the threat of intense flooding every spring,” Cortez Masto said. “The inclusion of this provision in the American’s Water Infrastructure Act will ensure that the Truckee Meadows Flood Control Project will continue to have access to over $181 million in funding to protect the surrounding communities from these devastating floods.”

The bill authorizes about $9 billion in Army Corps of Engineers projects around the nation. In April, TRFMA announced that it had entered into a $6.5 million flood damage reduction design agreement that contracts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to perform preconstruction engineering and the design of terracing and revegetation features along the Truckee River from Greg Street to McCarran Boulevard.

The package also included language to reauthorize, for the first time in 22 years, the drinking water state revolving loan fund (DWSRF), which provides low-interest loans to local governments and operators of sewer and water facilities for drinking water projects. After losing its authorization in fiscal 2003, Congress kept funding the program because it is popular with states and localities.

Rep. Jacky Rosen and other members of the delegation have supported reauthorization of the program. She signed onto letter in March requesting that appropriators double funding for the DWSRF. The bill nearly doubles the size of the program from $1 billion to $1.95 billion by fiscal 2021.

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