Water and Rockery Walls in Somersett

Submitted by Geoffrey Brooks  –  Association Member

In March the TMWA’s Senior Hydrologist Bill Hauck said “What a Winter!”

 “From the scientific perspective, there are many variables we use to determine that a drought cycle has ended”

“Some of those key factors are the amount of precipitation, soil moisture content, water content of the snow pack, current reservoir storage and streamflow runoff projections”.

“This has been the biggest winter in many, many years and may well turnout one of the wettest years ever”!

Lake Tahoe is overflowing causing “near flood conditions” in Reno. We have had over twice as much rain in this water year as normal so far. It is still raining and snowing on the nearby Mountains even in May.

Hills are green, so this means when summer gets here the fire-risk will be great. It is imperative for all to clear away, brush, tumbleweed and weeds from around your property lines.

So is this too much of a good thing…?

Well our normally “dry” stream beds dotted around have been flowing, we have developed a “marsh” at the East Park where the Peavine Stream flows.  Our two golf courses are lushly green, hopefully players are not being bogged down on the softer patches. The Somersett landscaping is in full spring bloom looking very beautiful.

Too much of a good thing…?

Somersett has had the large rockery walls collapse in 4 different residential locations. One of those was in Mountain Crest area. Unfortunately here several of the Toll Brother homes near the golf course had foundation collapse (inadequate building site (pad) construction). Fixing those issues has cost around $100,000 per house.

Why does this happen? Well all that rain washes out the supporting dirt/rock holding up the walls. Once this “backstop” is weakened…

Was this caused in inadequate preparation when Somersett’s infra-structure was put in? Well the “rocky cutting” as one drives in from the East of Somersett has been subject to rock slides, and subsequent modification, lawsuits. The irrigation system was improperly installed and subject to replacement, modernization, lawsuits. So one wonders whether there was proper due diligence during construction of the rockery walls. However, all the planning was for a desert with around 7” of rain per year. Then again, in Los Angeles (around 10” of rain a year), a heavy rainstorm often precipitates hillside “collapse”, mud flows.

How much will it cost Somersett and the SGCC to fix? This is unknown, at the moment, but guesstimates of $1,000,000 + have been made. We will have to bring heavy construction equipment in to replace the big boulders.

Walls have been in the news, in Somersett. Last year eyebrows were raised when the “great wall” was erected, as it was not a rockery wall. Walls have a history of falling down, examples are Hadrian’s Wall, Great Wall of China, Berlin Wall. Most walled places when under siege have fallen. So, like Humpty Dumpty who fell of the wall, it is very difficult (expensive?) to put the pieces back together.

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