Marlette Water System: $25 million for upgraded dams
June 5, 2018
Lawmakers were told on Tuesday the Marlette Water System that supplies water to Carson City and Storey County needs upgrades and maintenance that will cost millions of dollars.
System Manager Jerry Walker told the Tahoe/Marlette study committee repairing and upgrading the dams at Marlette Lake and Hobart Reservoir will cost an estimated $25 million.
Walker said they're looking at a long list of maintenance needs as well, including potential replacement of both summit generators he said have reached their operating life. One of those generators powers the pumps that send the water across the summit and down to Carson and Virginia City. He said that generator runs 24/7 for four months every year. In addition, he said miles of water pipe are, flattened by trucks, leaking and need to be replaced.
He said he and his staff are looking at a variety of potential funding sources for the work including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
“Not everybody wants to get on board with us. We’re running into some roadblocks.”
— Jerry WalkerMarlette Water System manager
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One problem, Walker said, is the Marlette system is deemed historical — it's 140 years old — a fact that brings in a number of requirements to preserve the historic value of the system.
"Not everybody wants to get on board with us," he said. "We're running into some roadblocks.
"We're trying to tap into some of this federal funding that's available instead of putting the complete burden on the ratepayers of Carson City and Storey County."
One problem they face, he said, is Marlette has three staffers including himself and they really don't have the time or expertise to tap into those federal grants.
That prompted Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, to move the committee send a letter asking the state grants management unit to help them out.
The motion was approved unanimously.
But Walker admitted other water systems charge significantly more per 1,000 gallons of water than Marlette. A couple of years ago, he said they raised the rate to 75 cents per 1,000 gallons.
When they brought in engineers from the Truckee Meadows Water Authority to look at the system, "they looked at me like I was out of this world."
He said they charge themselves $4.54 per 1,000 gallons to move water across their system and other water systems across the nation charge anywhere from $2 to $4 per 1,000 gallons.
Walker said raising Marlette's rate to $2 would at least provide some money for ongoing annual maintenance.
The committee will consider more action on Marlette's needs as it develops proposed legislation later this year.