Assessing Flooding and Hydrodynamics in a Closed Basin

Lemmon Valley, Nevada

Featured image for the project, Assessing Flooding and Hydrodynamics in a Closed Basin


Situated ten miles north of Reno, Nevada, the community of Lemmon Valley sits at the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in a closed basin.  A very wet winter in 2017 overwhelmed Swan Lake and flooded nearby homes and basements.  The water in some homes remained for months after the rains subsided and a 100-acre field remained submerged under 3 feet of water for months as well.   Situated atop impervious clay, runoff is a major concern to residents.  Most of the runoff can be traced to development occurring nearby.  Recently, a developer proposed building a high-density housing complex in Lemmon Valley that would require raising the structure above flood levels.  This has created concern among residents as it could further exacerbate flooding down slope.

The Lemmon Valley/Swan Lake Recovery Community Committee (LVSLRCC) was established to create a unified voice in the community impacted by recent flooding events in Lemmon Valley.  The flood group is focused on improving future recovery efforts as well as controlling Swan Lake through pumping, enlarging or deepening.  Flash flooding is also a major concern with outdated culverts and drainage systems to blame. The flood group has a good understanding of how the water is flowing in, but struggles with how to eliminate the water when floods hit the closed basin.  This understanding will help them take control of the situation to prevent future damages to property and infrastructure.   The group has 3 board members and 20 active resident participants.

This project has been conceived and designed in partnership with community leaders at LVSLRCC and Flood Forum USA.


Tammy Holt-Still with LVSLRCC will serve as the community lead.  The community lead commits to engaging with the scientific partner on this project and providing strategic direction to ensure that the scientific assessment is in line with their larger vision of flood reduction within the closed basin of Lemmon Valley.

Scientist Wanted

As an initial first step, a scientist is requested for 2 months to work with LVSLRCC to walk the neighborhood with the community leaders, examine and aggregate existing hydrological assessments and create a short write-up summarizing neighborhood-scale vulnerability and describe some next steps to learn more about and/or start mitigating that vulnerability.  These next steps will provide a foundation and refined scope upon which to shape the remainder of this TEX-FFUSA project.

TEX asks all scientific partners to work with the community to help define a project with concrete local impact that they can contribute to as pro-bono volunteers and collaborators.  This work can also position the scientists and communities to seek additional funding, together, for the next stage.


Timeline and Outcome

Work will begin as soon as possible (October 2017).  The first phase of this project will take approximately 2 months.  Once a refined project scope is identified, the remainder of the project is expected to last 12-16 months.


Desired Skills and Expertise

  • Background in hydrology or environmental engineering
  • Understanding of desert playas and aquifer hydrodynamics preferred
  • Experience dealing with urban sprawl, clay soils, hydrodynamics in closed basins and high desert communities preferred, but not required
  • Capable of explaining scientific data in a confident manner in potentially politically- charged environments
  • Ability to translate difficult science terminology to a lay audience
  • Willingness to be present for meetings with funders to respond to scientific questions, and work with community leaders to prepare for engaging with funders
  • Willingness to connect science to local concerns
  • Strong listening and communication skills
  • Competent and open to new ideas
  • Relaxed, easy going personality with a good sense of humor
  • The scientist should be able to visit the community in-person and able to walk neighborhoods with the community leaders

Collaborating Organization(s)

This project is part of one of TEXs’ new cohorts.  TEX has partnered with Flood Forum USA which supports grassroots flood groups across the country by helping them develop strategies for a sustainable future.  TEX is working with ten of their grassroots groups to connect them with scientists who can help them better characterize neighborhood-level flood risks and work effectively with local decision makers to mitigate those risks. 

Flood Forum USA