Wastewater, golf on city’s platter

The more things change, the more they stay the same, as Carson City’s Board of Supervisors was reminded Thursday about treated sewage wastewater and golf course issues.

The board voted unanimously to authorize city staffers to look at ways to ensure city government will continue disposing of wastewater effluent at the 27-hole Empire Ranch golf facility. The city has the option of buying the course with bankruptcy court approval — a possibility that Supervisor John McKenna wasn’t excited about.

“I don’t want to own another golf course,” said McKenna, though he didn’t scotch the idea entirely. He talked about other avenues to make sure the effluent can continue going to Empire Ranch. The effluent also goes to the city-owned but leased 36 holes at Eagle Valley and another private course, 18-hole Silver Oak. The state’s prison farms and city parks also take it.

The board this year resolved, at least in part, the problem at Eagle Valley, where the operation leasing it will pay 6 percent of gross revenues rather than fixed figures. The course fell woefully behind on payments using the fixed-figure system during the recession. That was primarily the result of the need to dispose of effluent.

A change in Empire Ranch course ownership could jeopardize the pact under which it receives effluent water.

The need to off-load the effluent after treatment by the city stems, City Manager Larry Werner reminded the board, from federal dictates dating to the 1970s banning it from being discharged into the Carson River. He also said that if city government must spend money on an Empire Ranch solution, it should come from utility-related funds rather than the general fund.

Parks and Recreation Director Roger Moellendorf testified that a disc golf course could be added at Empire Ranch if the number of regular golf holes were reduced, or soccer or other types of fields with the right grass to handle the treated wastewater could be added.

Supervisor Brad Bonkowski pointed out that if the city purchased Empire Ranch, it could turn around and sell it after attaching a provision requiring the buyer to continue taking the wastewater.

In a separate action, the board authorized employing Lee B. Smith of Lee B. Smith & Associates to appraise the golf course property. That could cost up to $10,000, Werner said.

In other lingering action related to water- and sewer-treatment issues, the board voted 4-1, with Supervisor Jim Shirk dissenting, for a resolution to establish a Carson City Utility Financial Oversight Committee. Each board member will choose one citizen for that advisory panel.

Supervisors said it was their attempt, at least by transparency and citizen input, to be certain reserves for future wastewater-treatment-plant and related utility needs aren’t used for other purposes. Some supervisors have lamented that previous boards years ago let such reserves slip away by sending them back to ratepayers.

On Thursday, the board also held a routine hearing as the next step before utility-related general obligation bonds can be issued. The bonds’ principal figures amount to no more than $6 million for water projects and $24.75 million for the sewer system upgrades.


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