Steamboat Creek Flood Study
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This paper will present the development, analysis, calibration, and results of a comprehensive hydrologic and hydraulic study performed for the Steamboat Creek watershed, located in Reno, Nevada. The purpose of the study was to establish accurate Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) in support of a number of residential developments proposed along Steamboat Creek. There had been several studies performed over the past decade, which each study producing very different peak flows. Encompassing over 240 square miles, the Steamboat Creek watershed is tributary to the Truckee River, one of the most protected rivers in Nevada. Citizens who reside along Steamboat Creek and its tributaries have experienced a marked increase in flooding within recent years; flooding widespread enough that even casual discussion of new development within the watershed results in a high level of concern and emotion, clearly seen during meetings that were held with the local residents. Outdated floodplain mapping and conflicting studies, combined with the already existing flood hazards threatening residences, properties, and thoroughfares, drove the need for a comprehensive, defensible watershed analysis to be completed. Extensive coordination with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the City of Reno, Washoe County, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) took place to ensure the final product was a reliable “predictor” of the anticipated watershed’s physical response to a flood event. NEXRAD radar rainfall data, which was incorporated into the modeling, greatly advanced the model calibration and verification efforts.