It's the H2O, stupid

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Mike Workman, Lyon County Utilities director, speaks during the Lyon County Economic & Critical Issues Conference 2008 at Dayton Valley Golf and Country Club at Legado on Wednesday. BELOW: The route for the pipeline to tie together Carson City and Lyon County water systems as provided by Vidler Water Co. and recreated by the Nevada Appeal. More interties like this are being established elsewhere, as business and government must have sufficient water to grow.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Mike Workman, Lyon County Utilities director, speaks during the Lyon County Economic & Critical Issues Conference 2008 at Dayton Valley Golf and Country Club at Legado on Wednesday. BELOW: The route for the pipeline to tie together Carson City and Lyon County water systems as provided by Vidler Water Co. and recreated by the Nevada Appeal. More interties like this are being established elsewhere, as business and government must have sufficient water to grow.

At the first Lyon County Economic and Critical Issues Conference one thing was abundantly clear: Without water, everything else is moot.

County officials working on master plans, businesses hoping to build or expand and development professionals trying to lure companies to the area have to be aware of water issues.

Not just where it is, but who has a right to it, how much will it cost, how long before it runs out. What happens with water disputes and protests; how to counterbalance water agreements and decrees more than 100 years old with the increased development and population of today.

"Master plans must be tied to the water," said Assemblyman Tom Grady. "How can you say you have a master plan if you don't know where the water is? It all ties in together."

Tying things together, especially water, was a recurring theme at the event, put on by the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.

"It was time to put something together," said Carol Thompson, chamber executive director. "Economically we're all in a dire situation right now and we have to be each other's best friend."

It featured about 60 water purveyors, developers, engineers, economists and county officials who talked of their difficulties and tried to come up with ways to work together.

Working together meant with other counties, especially where water was concerned.

One of the main points was the Carson City-Lyon County intertie, which will allow the two utilities to share water during emergencies or times of peak use.

Carson Water Subconservancy District director Ed James said other interties between counties have taken years to put together, and are essential, along with recognizing each county's rights and needs. He pointed out the need for the Truckee Canal.

"For the Newlands project, you can't depend on the Carson River for irrigation," he said. "If there's no irrigation, it hurts the groundwater. We're all affected by each other's actions."

Lyon Utilities Director Mike Workman said working with Carson City and Vidler Co. was a great opportunity to improve water service to both entities and continue the possibility of increased development in Dayton. He said it will take the pressure off the Dayton system, as well as allowing Carson City to defer millions in capital investments they would have had to make.

"I honestly didn't think I would live to see it," he said.

Vidler officials originally proposed the project in which they will build the water line and sell their 75 acre-feet of water rights to developers. The developers who later purchase the water rights will then deed them to the county. Vidler will also deed the infrastructure to the county.

The project includes a 16-inch main line coming from Carson City to the Mound House tank, then on east to the upper Dayton tank.

State Sen. Mark Amodei, who moderated the event, said that when Carson City water goes into Lyon County, or vice versa, it will be the first time that water crossed county lines through government cooperation in more than 100 years.

"This is an example of something unique in the state so far, but the first step for other counties," he said.

Other areas with interties in force or planned are Douglas County-Minden, Douglas County-Carson City and Minden-Gardnerville.

Amodei said that Clark County sued to have six water purveyors and they came together and created the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Last year, the legislature created the Western Regional Water Commission, over the objections of some purveyors.

"The message for this part of Northern Nevada is, if you cooperate, you'll be left alone," he said, adding that Las Vegas representatives, which make up the bulk of the Legislature, like the concept of a regional water authority, and could force others to be part of similar bodies. "Islands are not very plentiful, and when interest is focused on them, they get bridges built to them against the will of the people."

Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-7351.

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