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Pipeline work to divert floodwaters near Grand Teton to begin in November

Hours after city officials said their first priority was a project to complete an under­ground floodwater pipeline, which would connect to the Kyle Canyon Detention Basin and mitigate flood damages, heavy rain Wednesday washed over northwest Las Vegas and areas already heavily damaged by recent flooding.

When floodwaters swept down Las Vegas streets the last week of August and again Labor Day weekend, it took chunks of concrete with it and left behind ash and soot.

“I’ve been here since 1962. I’ve seen some doozies,” northwest Las Vegas resident Dante Evans said. “It was pretty nasty. Flash floods could be pretty nasty.”

During the last two weekends, overflow from the Kyle Canyon Detention Basin rushed down Grand Teton Drive, shutting down portions of the road by leaving behind debris from July’s Carpenter 1 Fire in the Spring Mountains.

City officials said the solution is to connect the Kyle Canyon Detention Basin to existing underground flood pipelines, as well as adding more pipeline.

“It’s moved to the top of our project list,” Ward 6 Councilman Steve Ross said. “Initial funding was not expected for five to seven years.”

Ward 6, in the northwest, is where the majority of the flooding and damage occurred. The cleanup is expected to cost $350,000, according to city officials.

Construction east of U.S. Highway 95 is expected to start in November and cost about $15 million to complete. Construction west of U.S. 95 is slated to begin in eight months and cost $7 million, according to Department of Public Works manager Jorge Cervantes.

The councilman and other city officials said the basin works, but during torrential downpours, the basin cannot handle the volume of water.

“It doesn’t have to be raining here to be flooding here,” Frasier said. If the Kyle Canyon Detention Basin did not exist, “subdivisions would have been completely washed away and lives lost. The basin did work.”

“We’re working with the city to connect the dots,” he added.

Although officials said that the amount of rain that came off the mountain was unprecedented, Randy Swick, manager of the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area with the U.S. Forest Service, said the debris flow caused by flooding was expected by the Burned Area Emergence Response team. The basin does not have any kind of gate to release water with controls. Water gathers there and trickles out at a slower rate than the water falls from the sky.

“Our system did work, it’s just not complete,” Ross said.

Currently, the basin overflows, sending water down the streets of northwest Las Vegas, primarily in the Grand Teton Drive area.

“We’ll start to design (the pipelines) immediately. We’ll catch the water flow at Hualapai and take it underground,” Cervantes said. “The majority of the water will be carried underground.”

For Shawn Carter, who lives at the top of Grand Teton Drive, the floodwaters were a major inconvenience.

“Going to work, you have to go out of the way, like two miles, to get to the freeway,” said Carter, who goes to work at 3 a.m. “It just went all down the hill. It comes perfectly right down the street.”

For Carter, the pipeline would be a boon for the city.

“That would be good if they can get them done,” he said. “The other day when I came down, it was really bad. It’s lucky it didn’t do more damage.”

Before rain began again Wednesday, city officials projected the current surface debris would be cleared by the end of the week and next week city crews would begin to clear the city trails.

Residents affected by flood damage in the northwest can talk to city and flood officials at 6 p.m. today at the Centennial Hills Active Adult Center, 6601 N. Buffalo Drive.

“We still have people who don’t respect the floods,” Evans said. “The thing that fascinates me the most about the floods is it happens so quickly. It starts as a trickle, then it’s a deluge.”

Wednesday afternoon brought heavy rain along the Spring Mountains and Henderson, tallying between 0.05 inches and 0.28 inches of rain throughout the valley. With no low pressure system in the near future to push the moisture out of the valley, possibilities of afternoon and evening rains will persist throughout the week, according to the National Weather Service.

Review-Journal writer Colton Lochhead contributed to this report. Contact reporter Rochel Leah Goldblatt at rgoldblatt@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0264.

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