A $3 surcharge will be added to water bills in Storey County, approved this week by commissioners. The charge will be added to water bills in January, the money used to augment a $1.5 million grant for repairs to their leaking water system.
Storey County Commissioner Chuck Haynes said the surcharge guarantees a steady revenue source and as a result, he expects to approve lower water rates.
"Now that we have hard dollars associated with the water hookups, I think I'm comfortable with a rate reduction," he said. "We can finally give water users in Storey County some relief."
Storey officials received the grant money in late August through Assembly Bill 198, Nevada legislation passed in 1991 that provides rural communities with money for infrastructure improvements.
The $1.5 million is only part of the $2.2 million total needed to replace the 3.7-mile stretch of leaking pipe that extends from McClellan Peak to Five-Mile reservoir and the grant requires county officials come up with the balance in matching funds.
Between $700,000 and $800,000 have been set aside in anticipation of this expense, but Commissioners want to keep as much in reserve as possible.
A new siphon near McClellan Peak and a lining to reduce water loss at the Reservoir will soon be needed to tighten up the system and Storey County officials are trying to hold the purse strings so they can go the financial distance.
Virginia City's water system loses a maximum of 3 to 4 million gallons monthly and while leaks take their toll, the loss due primarily to filtration at the Reservoir, engineer George Georgeson said in a previous interview.
The historic system has provided water to Virginia City residents for over a century. Built in the 1870s under the direction of German engineer Hermann Schussler, it uses gravity to force water from Hobart Reservoir in the Sierra east through Lakeview and into Five Mile Reservoir, just outside Virginia City.
Construction on the project is expected to begin in the spring.