Lyon County Utilities backs off push for water regulating valves
Appeal Staff Writer
Lyon County Utilities officials stepped in the proverbial hornet’s nest last week when they sent about 1,000 letters to residents of several developments along Dayton Valley Road advising them of a planned water pressure increase.
The letter said homeowners should verify that their residence has a pressure regulator valve, which is required by current building codes.
Gregory Rumbles got such a letter last week, but his home was built before pressure regulator valves were required and his home didn’t have one.
When he checked on how much it would cost to install one, he was told a whopping $750. Others received lower quotes, but few were happy.
So Rumbles, like many others in Dayton Valley, called utilities to complain.
Swamped with angry callers, utilities Director Mike Workman called a halt to seeking every home to have a water pressure valve, and said the county will install one on the main line, though he said that will not increase the pressure for individual homes as much as the original plan.
He said the original plan was to provide a looped system, so that if a natural disaster or accident occurred that damaged a water line, another would be available to continue service. The work would also provide increased water pressure for fire protection and homes with low pressure.
“We’ve had complaints about low pressure, sprinklers don’t work, or people can’t take a shower and run their sprinkler at the same time,” Workman said.
Other advantages, he said, would be additional storage, the ability to use lines from multiple well sites or shut down a dysfunctioning well without affecting pressure or supply.
He said the water pressure would have gone from 60 pounds per square inch to 100 psi in the original plan. Now, with the master water pressure regulator on the main line, pressure will only increase from 12 psi to 15 psi.
Workman said whenever pressure is increased, a letter is sent to residents to verify they have pressure regulator valves and that they are functioning property. But officials were not aware how many homes didn’t have the valves, a number determined to be about 500.
“The phones started ringing and it hasn’t stopped,” he said. “It appears that the majority of the homes never had a pressure valve installed.”
The building code does not require older homes to have the valves, but Workman said it’s good insurance because a surge in water pressure could result in damage to plumbing and homes.
Workman said a power outage could bring about a surge when wells go back on line, or if there were a major fire, and all of the fire trucks stopped using water at once.
Residents received a second letter today explaining that the county would put a master regulator valve on the main line.
“Now I’m getting calls from people upset that we aren’t going to do it,” he said. “We have people who want to sue us for doing it and we have people threatening to sue is because we’re not going to do it.”
He said the master valve will cost between $50,000 and $60,000, which will come out of capital improvement funds. He said they will alter priorities to pay for it.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.