Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters in terms of human hardship and economic loss. The geographic location of flooding is concentrated in the floodway and floodplain of the Truckee River and its tributaries, including Steamboat Creek and Dry Creek in eastern Reno and southern Sparks. The Truckee River headwaters comprise the Lake Tahoe Basin. The river drains part of the high Sierra Nevada and empties into Pyramid Lake. The three types of flooding are 100-year and 500-year floods; flash flooding; and closed-basin flooding.
Floods can cause substantial damage to structures, landscapes, and utilities, as well as jeopardize life safety. Certain health hazards are also common to flooding events. Standing water and wet materials in structures can become breeding grounds for microorganisms such as bacteria, mold and viruses. Where flooding occurs in populated areas, warning and evacuation will be of critical importance to reduce life and safety impacts.
Washoe County has adopted Article 416, Flood Hazards, of the Washoe County Development Code to
reduce the County’s vulnerability to flooding. Article 416 establishes development guidelines and
requirements for properties in unincorporated parts of the County that are within flooding hazard
areas. For developments in flood‐prone areas of the County to be approved, mitigation measures,
such as Letter of Map Revisions to FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps, on‐site detention/retention
basins, elevation/fills for building pads, and drainage improvements, must be implemented. Through
its land use planning and zoning authority, the County has attempted to zone flood‐prone areas for
less intense development or no development at all.
Sign-up for Alerts
Citizens can register for reverse telephone notification, called Code Red, as well as other notifications concerning alerts. To sign up, click on the “Regional Notification” link on the menu and follow the instructions.
To learn more about flood management, click here.