FALLON -- Water flows were restored Friday in an irrigation canal that burst on the edge of Fallon last week, thanks to local farmers who pitched in to rebuild the earthen embankment critical to more than 1,000 farms and ranches in the area.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation granted permission to release water early Friday from Lahontan Dam, through Diversion Dam and into the V-Line Canal.
The water appeared at Lewis Spill, the site of the canal breach, at 9:50 a.m. and the temporary fix was handling the water with no trouble, said Dave Overvold, project manager for the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District that operates the canal for the bureau.
"Everything looks wonderful," Overvold told the Lahontan Valley News. "This was truly a community effort," Overvold said. "Everybody just came together."
Kenneth Parr, deputy area manager of the bureau's Lahontan Basin Area Office in Carson City, said the canal's operations will be monitored around the clock for the next five days.
Flows initially will be limited to between 150 and 200 cubic feet per second.
If no problems are observed, flows will be ramped up at a rate of 2 to 3 feet an hour before reaching full flow, Parr said.
"Public safety is paramount as we put flows back into the canal," Parr said Friday.
"We know how crucial the water that flows through the V-Line Canal is to the farms and wetlands. We greatly appreciate the efforts of the local community, which were key to expediting the repairs," he said.
Agency officials have not determined what caused the second breach in six months of the century-old irrigation system. The earlier one 30 miles west in Fernley flooded nearly 600 homes on Jan. 5.
The Fallon breach on June 11 washed away a bridge and access road along with part of a concrete spillway.
No homes were damaged or injuries reported after a large section of the V-Line Canal failed 60 miles east of Reno.
A farmer and his wife, however, had a scare as they watched the earthen embankment outside their home fall into the canal in the dark as a torrent of water rushed past.
The 30-foot breach in the embankment sent water into a wasteway, a separate channel that returns water from the canal into the Carson River. The force of the water surge eroded about 60 feet of the wasteway, uprooting trees and washing away the farmer's driveway and two commercial size propane tanks.
Neighbors helped the farmer retrieve the propane tanks about two miles down river.