A tentative deal with state environmental officials to avoid an overhaul of Carson City's effluent storage reservoir would save more than just a hefty sum, it would also save the city's only public shooting range.
Carson City was under orders to pour a concrete lining in its municipal reservoir near Brunswick Canyon because the treated effluent being held there seeps through its walls, swelling streams that trickle into Carson River.
Lining it would have forced the city to find another place to hold the effluent. The place city engineers found was the Carson City Shooting Park.
"That's what we were going to recommend as staff," said Carson City Development Services Director Andy Burnham.
City officials complained to the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection that along with a $5 million price tag to line the pit, the mandate would cost another $10 million or $15 million for related projects to handle extra water, such as turning the shooting park into a reservoir.
Mayor Marv Teixeira said there had to be another way to handle the relatively clean waste water. According to the city, the treated effluent is safe enough to drink, but NDEP says it's still high in algae-promoting nitrates, which could spell trouble for aquatic life.
The city and NDEP reached a tentative deal to closely monitor water quality around the reservoir to see if seepage affects the river. City officials believe monitoring will show the effluent reservoir does not harm the river.
The state hasn't officially signed off on the agreement, but city officials expect a go-ahead by mid-July.
With a plan to monitor rather than line the Brunswick reservoir, the shooting park plan is indefinitely on hold.
Even with at least a temporary reprieve, however, one shooting group is still worried about the range, saying vandalism and the carelessness of a few roustabouts could ruin the place for everyone.
The city and various shooting clubs have done great things at the range, said Ian Burns, president of a club called Team Dynami.
Covered shooting bays have been built and signs have been posted by enthusiasts of the range. It is now riddled with holes.
Local shooting clubs try to keep the place in shape by organizing cleanups. But Burns said there seems to be no end to people who come out to the range, usually at night, and blow holes in anything and everything. Or those who bring out trash to shoot up, and leave it there when they're done. Or those who paint graffiti everywhere.
"That's what's going to get it shut down," Burns said.
Carson City Parks and Recreation Director Roger Moellendorf said the city hasn't considered closing the range, but it is acutely aware of the vandalism and litter that plague it.
"That's something our department is constantly concerned about," Moellendorf said.
With one potential range-closing problem averted, Burns is urging shooters to help themselves avert another one by being more responsible.
"Just don't destroy (the park) for future generations," he said.
n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.