Alternatives to fence at Scotts Flat Reservoir discussed | TheUnion.com

Alternatives to fence at Scotts Flat Reservoir discussed

Fencing installed by NID at the Scotts Flat spillway due to public safety concerns has blocked access to the public. The district said it will consider alternatives suggested by the customers that could address safety concerns while still allowing public use of the spillway.

Nevada Irrigation District customers suggested the district build a tunnel, hire security guards or install surveillance cameras, among other options, at the Scotts Flat spillway in order to address safety concerns.

Despite the variety in solutions suggested Wednesday night during a special workshop to brainstorm access options to the spillway, customers all agreed on one thing: the public shouldn't be barred from accessing the spillway.

Some customers say the fence is blocking their only easy access to the other side of the reservoir and to nearby trails.

NID staff said they opted to install a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire on all sides of the Scotts Flat spillway in August, blocking public access, in order to address orders given at the state level to mitigate safety concerns.

Following the failure of the Oroville Dam spillway in February, staff said, state officials have increased scrutiny of the safety of reservoirs throughout California.

Safety concerns at the spillway, the district said, include illegal camping and campfires, unsafe jumping from the spillway into the lake, excessive trash, graffiti and dumped debris.

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But the fence was staff's solution. It wasn't mandated by a regulatory agency, the district said Wednesday.

Assistant General Manager Greg Jones said he compiled a list of the suggestions given Wednesday night — 17 in total, he said — that customers say would allow the district to mitigate the safety concerns without completely shutting off public access to the spillway.

When asked by a customer whether the district would seriously consider alternatives to the fence, Assistant General Manager Greg Jones said Wednesday's meeting wasn't "in vain."

"I don't think we're here to provide lip service to the community," he said. "I think we want to hear what you're bringing forth."

Some customers suggested closing the fence from dawn to dusk but leaving it open during the day — a solution contested by some bicyclists who said they often use the trail after work and fear being caught on the wrong side of the locked gate at the end of a ride. Others recommended the district install signage warning that jumping from the spillway, vandalizing the area or dumping trash are forbidden activities that could result in prosecution.

The idea of a neighborhood watch group was also tossed around, along with a partnership between the district and local organizations to establish a group responsible for trash pickup and enforcement of trail etiquette.

"The great ideas you guys have all put forth allow us to go back to the drawing board with all of these different options," Jones said.

The next step in the process, he said, is to form an ad-hoc committee with district staff and local stakeholders to flesh out the best options and "dive deeper" into an effective alternative.

NID Board Member Nancy Weber requested that meeting be open to the public. She also requested that any alternative to the fence be approved by the full board.

Jones agreed, and said he would send out notice to those who attended Wednesday's workshop when an ad-hoc committee meeting is scheduled.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.

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