Douglas County dealing with water issue for gated community |

Douglas County dealing with water issue for gated community

Kurt Hildebrand
The entrance to Sierra Country Estates off of Foothill.
Kurt Hildebrand file photo |

Pending litigation wasn’t the only factor in a decision not to run a pipeline to a gated Foothill community, whose water system was taken over in 2013.

The legal issues with Jobs Peak Ranch and Douglas County over its water system aren’t likely to be resolved soon, said County Engineer Nick Charles.

“The drought has had a noticeable impact on the wells in Jobs Peak, leaving us wondering if we have enough water in those wells to serve Sierra Country Estates,” Charles said.

That leaves a plan approved to serve Sierra Country Estates without a second water source.

Some solution must be found for Douglas County to comply with a State Engineer’s Office order by June 9, Charles said.

Under the new plan, the county will still build a treatment plant to deal with Sierra Country Estates water quality. But the other proposal is to drill a second well.

Sierra Country Estates only has 17 customers and the cost to fix the water system exceeds $1 million.

The original plan to build a pipeline would have cost $1.14 million. Fixing a second well to serve the community will come to $1.25 million, while drilling a new well will cost $1.62 million.

Charles said the goal is to keep the cost to residents the same in all three options, but that minimum is still nearly $600,000.

Drilling a new well is the most expensive of the three options, but can partly be paid by the county’s water utility. Charles estimated just drilling the well would cost $250,000.

The county will drill a test well using money from a study to determine the best configuration.

“I would never drill a municipal well of this size without first drilling a test well,” County Manager Larry Werner said.

Resident Steve Leandro questioned drilling a new well instead of using the existing second well.

“I don’t like that so few of us will pay so much,” he said.

Resident Evan Maxwell asked why the system required a treatment plant if all the homes had individual systems.

Because there are more than 15 customers, the system is regulated by the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection. That means the county is required to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act, which means the water must meet national standards.

While not setting rates yet, under the proposal approved by commissioners residents could end up paying $314 a month for water.

Resident Bob Riley said he’d been paying $310 a month since the system was taken over by the county.

A proposal to make residents pay for additional water rights if they exceed their allotment ended up being set aside.

Sierra Country Estates was under two state engineer orders because the system had exceeded their water rights. When the county took over, additional water rights for the water system were secured, and since then water usage has been cut in half.