County to take over Yerington-area water company

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By June 12, Crystal Clear Water Co. customers will be calling Lyon County Utilities about their bills and water pressure.

That's the date the county will take over full operations of the troubled private utility, which is being overseen by the state Public Utilities Division.

"We've been talking all along about the prices and how we would go about it," said Mike Workman, executive director of the county utilities department.

Workman said utilities staff members have been meeting with former owners Bill and Diane Brandt as well as the PUC to identify weaknesses in the system and develop a strategy for improved service.

"We need to find out if there are any mechanical weaknesses in the system and to make sure we have some extra parts and have a mini response plan," he said. "We're working on how we are going to staff it."

He said he plans to send an introductory letter to each customer, and around mid-June hold a meeting for customers of the system.

Workman said a rate increase was inevitable.

"The county manager was real clear with people that, because it is an enterprise fund, any improvements that are needed to bring it into current standards and compliance, that user rates and connection fees will have to go up," he said, though he could not offer any figures.

Serious water pressure problems, high arsenic levels and outdated equipment are some of the headaches the county has taken on, Workman said.

Donna Kristaponis, Lyon County manager, said the county would incur no costs by taking over the company.

"It was basically a hand off from them (the Brandts) to the PUC to us," she said. "There's $10,000 that the users will have to pay and money for a backhoe, but everything is rate-payer-driven."

The Crystal Clear Water Co. served about 108 residents of El Rancho Estates east of Yerington. Steve McGoff, senior engineering analyst with the PUC, said the state agency was handling billing and other needs until the county takeover is complete.

Bringing the water system back from the brink would not be easy, Workman said, but was not impossible.

"It's possible that portions of the system can be reused," he said. "It's a very straightforward design, so any future improvements in the system will not be difficult to design and build."

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.


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