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Big open skies mean big beautiful sunsets...

What is a Significant Hydrologic Resource (SHR) and why are there codes to protect streams and creeks?
A Significant Hydrologic Resource is a creek or stream shown on an adopted SHR map in the Washoe County Development Code. The Washoe County Stream Advisory Committee was established by the Board of County Commission (BCC) and began meeting in January 1998. The idea originated with the Mr. Rose/Geiger Grade Citizen Advisory Board. (A Citizen Advisory Board is a neighborhood board with members appointed by the BCC to provide advice and recommendations on issues and proposals in the county.) The Stream Advisory Committee included members with technical expertise who were citizen, developer, water quality, wildlife and public health interest stakeholders.

By 1998, many of the streams in Washoe County were diverted and channeled to provide water for agriculture, without regard to stream structure and condition. Due to damage and deterioration of the stream environments, and the lack of consideration of the critical role streams play in preserving the quality of Washoe County`s natural environment, the Stream Advisory Committee believed it was important to maintain the natural vegetation along the streams to stabilize banks and maintain the ecological system. It was understood that confinement by concrete channeling or placement of rip rap prevents the natural processes that produce thriving plant and animal life.

After more than two years of work of the Stream Advisory Committee, Washoe County staff presented a proposed Development Code Amendment to the Washoe County Planning Commission and, subsequently, to the Board of County Commission. The proposed amendment was reviewed by Citizen Advisory Boards, developers, contractors and technical experts. Finally, on February 15, 2001, the amendment was adopted as Washoe County Code. The amendment provided protection of property from flooding, reduced land development impacts on stream water quality and flows, and provided wildlife mitigation corridors while, at the same time, scrutinized the implications to all parties including whether the ordinance was unfairly burdensome on the property owner or whether the ordinance eliminated all reasonable use of the property.