Brunswick needs work but plays an important role in city’s water plan | NevadaAppeal.com
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Brunswick needs work but plays an important role in city’s water plan

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

Brunswick Reservoir was constructed during the early 1980s. It can hold up to 3,000 acre-feet of effluent.

The city now uses effluent that flows back and forth between the reservoir and the wastewater treatment plant to keep landscaping green on some of its properties, such as parks and golf courses, and provides some of it for use on the nearby Nevada State Prison grounds.

Lining of wastewater reservoirs with a synthetic material wasn’t required until the late 1990s – long after Brunswick was constructed, said Andrew Burnham, the city’s public works director.

Other communities across the state “are going through the same thing,” he said.

The state ordered Carson City in January 2004 to line the reservoir if it were to continue being used for wastewater storage, after discussing the matter for nearly two years. The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection cited concerns over nitrates seeping into the groundwater as the primary reason why the leakage had to be stopped.

An earlier plan to construct rapid infiltration basins to recharge the wastewater drew criticism from nearby residents that the basins would leach effluent into their own privately-owned drinking water systems.

Wastewater leakage from Brunswick is expected to be remedied short-term by letting the excess reach the Carson River, but state water officials won’t likely allow the city to do this permanently, Burnham said.

Wastewater system upgrades aren’t simple.

Last week, the Board of Supervisors heard about several projects done in other communities by Vidler Water Co., the company proposing to solve the city’s problem and further clean the effluent. In Fountain Hills, Ariz., aquifer storage and recovery wells there relate best to Carson’s needs. Effluent is stored in local lakes for use during the summer, and the water also is injected into wells.

Each project is unique and requires more than an “off-the-shelf solution,” said Dorothy Timian-Palmer, Vidler’s chief operating officer and Carson City’s former utility director.

The city is planning an expansion and upgrade of its wastewater plant, which will also help the situation by making the effluent leakage from Brunswick a higher quality than it is now.

The first phase of the four-phase job could cost up to $29 million. It was scheduled to begin construction in June. Last year, it was only expected to cost $17 million, which is why it’s been put on hold, Burnham said.

Wastewater system upgrades aren’t simple. Each project is unique and requires more than an “off-the-shelf solution,” said Dorothy Timian-Palmer, Vidler’s chief operating officer and Carson City’s former utility director.

The city is planning an expansion and upgrade of its wastewater plant, which will also help the situation by making the effluent leakage from Brunswick a higher quality than it is now.

The first phase of the four-phase job could cost up to $29 million. It was scheduled to begin construction in June. Last year, it was only expected to cost $17 million, which is why it’s been put on hold, Burnham said.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.