Legislative water battle resumes
Associated Press Writer
The session’s biggest water battle resumed Wednesday at the Legislature, as local officials, water agencies, concerned citizens and environmental groups all weighed in on a proposal to create a centralized Northern Nevada water agency.
Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, said SB487, which would create a Northern Nevada Water Authority, was the product of two years of work by an interim subcommittee. He said the new agency would mandate cooperation and accountability, while still leaving water firmly under local control.
Under the bill, a nine-member board composed of elected officials from Washoe County and from cities and water agencies in the county would create a comprehensive, regional water plan. Truckee Meadows Water Authority and other water purveyors would continue to serve their existing clients, but the new agency would control wholesale rates, as well as any water importation plans.
Amodei told the Assembly Government Affairs Committee that opponents who said the new agency would subsidize developers were using scare tactics. The bill puts water planning in the hands of the same local officials who make planning and zoning that affect growth, he said.
“We’re not telling you what to do, but we are telling you that you will do it together,” said Amodei. “This is the right thing to do for the region. If you just say no, we put it back to where it was where we found it. That is not the most efficient way to treat this most important resource.”
Opponents of the bill said that regional cooperation is already happening under existing agencies. Stories of duplicate facilities or competing water mains serving the same neighborhoods are false, said Washoe County Commissioner Jim Galloway.
“The new planning will be less independent and more politicized,” said Galloway, one of two county commissioners to vote against the proposal.