Mound House sewer system project triggers controversy

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Some Mound House residents think plans to build a sewer system in the all-septic neighborhood stinks.

But others say the prevalence of septic systems is causing the level of nitrates in the groundwater to rise, and if they rise too high the state will mandate a sewer system for which Mound House residents will have to foot the bill.

Aaron West-Guillen, a consultant for NAI Alliance who was hired by Diamondback Properties, gave a presentation to the Mound House Advisory Council meeting earlier this month. Diamondback Properties is planning a commercial, industrial and residential development in Mound House.

West-Guillen told the council that the many septic tanks in the area eventually will harm the groundwater and possibly Carson River surface water, and the community should consider converting from septics to a sewer system that will pipe sewage to the Rolling A Wastewater Treatment Plant in Dayton.

The $15-million plant being considered could be paid for through federal and state grants and private funds, he said.

To qualify for federal funds, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program is facilitating an income survey of Mound House residents.

"The income survey completely relates to monies that are available to USDA to convert the homes up there from septic to sewer," West-Guillen said. "It isn't to justify the project, only to justify the use of federal funds to change from septics to sewer, and will help put in lower rates."

He said the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection has identified Mound House as a problem because of the proliferation of septic systems.

Ron Kipp, chairman of the council, said he would only support the sewer if residents had a choice whether to hook up to it, assuming their septics were in good condition, but he acknowledged that many in Mound House were opposed.

"I support it as long as no one is going to make me or my neighbors hook to it unless I have to," he said. "If there is a sewer line within 400 feet of you and your septic fails, they can mandate you to hook up to the sewer."

He said he understood the problems with nitrates and pointed out what happened to Sun Valley when the nitrate levels got too high and that community was forced to be part of a special assessment district to pay for the plant.

"NDEP can come in and say you have to have a sewer," he said. "I've been around long enough to know you don't want to screw up your groundwater and since NDEP can mandate that we put in a sewer system, I'd rather have one that is paid for by grants and a developer than be in an assessment district."

But Jeannette Wright said many in the community feel left out by the county government and don't want to be part of the process.

"They want to do a salary survey and get the support of the community, but the community is so disheartened with the commissioners because Mound House is the forgotten part of the county," she said. "The county hasn't done anything for us but now they want our help in getting this done so a developer can put his project in."

She said she realizes it needs to be done because of the contaminants from all the septic tanks in the area, but added the county needed to go about it a different way.

Dante Pistone, spokesman for NDEP, said the talks about Mound House were very preliminary, but in theory the department would rather see a sewer system.

"As a general rule, from an environmental standpoint, we do support sewer systems over septic tanks," he said.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 881-7351.


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