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Marlette water contract raises concerns

Appeal Capitol Bureau

Gov. Kenny Guinn held off approving an amendment to the contract between Carson City and the state for Marlette Reservoir water, saying he wants to make sure the two are thinking of the long-term management of the system.

The state owns the Marlette Water System and leases it to Carson City. The system provides water to the capital and about 800 customers in Virginia City. But much of the system is 100 years old, and there have been serious questions raised about how much money rehabilitation and maintenance will cost in the next few years.

“I just want to make sure we’re thinking long range,” said Guinn.

System Manager Mike Leahy said the new rates in the contract “are going to help us not be a general fund liability.”

“The increase is going to help us pay for maintenance,” he said.

Guinn said he would be more comfortable if he gets some estimates of potential costs to repair and replace the system.

“Carson City, Virginia City and the state are all working together on this,” said State Lands Manager Pam Wilcox. “This is one of the pieces that will eventually solve those problems.”

Under the agreement, the city pumps water from Marlette and manages the system, adding the water to the city system. In return, the state gets water to supply its buildings. The city buys the water for 65 cents per thousand gallons. State domestic water purchases range from 49 cents for the first 5,000 gallons to $1.58 per thousand for more than 50,000 gallons.

Under the contract, the city leases a 3-million-gallon water tank, million-gallon reservoir and the treatment plant, among other facilities.

Wilcox said she would bring the proposed contract amendments back to the Board of Examiners in February.