First reported to the property owner – the Truckee Donner Land Trust – by a Donner Summit resident on the morning of the 30th, Land Trust staff immediately contacted the California Department of Water Resources’ Division of Safety of Dams (the State agency that regulates jurisdictional dams including Lake Van Norden Dam) and Nevada County, who joined Land Trust staff and their engineer on site to evaluate the structure.
“We have been assured there is no immediate threat from the damage,” said Perry Norris, executive director of the Land Trust after an on-site assessment with state and county officials. “We are working with DWR’s Division of Safety of Dams, and local engineers to divert the flow over the spillway away from the damaged portion.”
Work to divert water away from the damaged area is now underway to further assess the situation and determine an appropriate interim repair. Officials on-site are keeping Nevada County Sheriffs apprised of the situation and if conditions change.
The Land Trust has been working to address issues with the dam for eight years. A plan to lower the dam height – designed to both mitigate safety concerns and to prevent the impoundment of water for which water rights do not exist – is set to go before Nevada County for approval later this year after an extensive environmental review process.
The dam was constructed in the late 1800s and notched by PG&E in the 1970s. The Division of Safety of Dams last inspected Van Norden Dam in October of 2018 as part of its annual inspections.
The Land Trust took ownership of the dam as part of the 3,000-acre acquisition of Royal Gorge in 2012, preserving open space previously slated for a proposed 950-unit resort development.
About Truckee Donner Land Trust:
The Truckee Donner Land Trust preserves and protects scenic, historic and recreational lands with high natural resource values in the greater Truckee Donner region and manages recreational activities on these lands in a sustainable manner. Learn more at www.tdlandtrust.org