December 8, 2012 | Back to: Columns

Rain impacts airport, surrounding properties

A stormy, soggy week in western Nevada County produced many more inches of rain than normal for this time of year, evident in flooded areas throughout the community.

The Nevada County Air Park, which has taken steps to improve its own drainage issues, was among the areas negatively impacted by the heavy rainfall.

“As you know, the airport has undertaken a major drainage improvement project over the summer and fall,” Nevada County Executive Officer Rick Haffey wrote in his Friday memo to the Board of Supervisors.

“We are experiencing significant issues with the flows from the recent storms. Both the contract engineers and the contractor who installed the improvements are working to resolve the issues.

“Our new airport manager, Lee Ocker, has done a great job at mitigating the issues, but unfortunately at the peak of last weekend’s storm, several surrounding properties were affected by runoff from the airport.”

The unofficial rain gauge at the airport marked 23 inches from Nov. 28 to Dec. 5, which longtime resident Robert Steuber said is more rain than he recalls falling in decades.

“I remember in 1973 we had rain every day in January and only missed a day or two in February,” said Steuber.

According to National Weather Service forecaster Johnnie Powell, the official amount of rain measured between Nov. 28 and Dec. 5 was 13 inches at the water treatment plant in Grass Valley.

“Some people don’t get that much rain in a whole year,” Powell said.

Steuber said the airport’s elevation being 700 feet higher than Grass Valley accounts for the higher measurement at the airport.

Although higher-than-average rain was totaled throughout the week, the majority of the deluge fell in a three-day period.

“Most of that water came in a period of three days,” said Mike Busse, chief plan operator of the Grass Valley Waste Water Plant on Freeman Lane. “The majority of the rain was Friday to Sunday.”

Busse said the last time he remembered such heavy rainfall was in March 2012.

“I don’t remember the exact numbers, but that rain was a little more spread out over a period of five to seven days,” Busse said.

The Nevada County Air Park, used mostly by private pilots, was closed due to the weather but reopened Sunday.

“Initially no one was flying that week at all,” said Rob Kopp, airport lead worker. “Around last Sunday everything kind of dried up and cleared.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4230.


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The Union Updated Dec 10, 2012 12:29PM Published Dec 11, 2012 03:58AM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.