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Pipeline to provide cleaner water

Sandi Hoover
shoover@nevadaappeal.com

A historic water agreement between Carson City, Douglas County and the Town of Minden was authorized today by the Board of Supervisors.

Carson City will benefit by obtaining cleaner water in greater abundance. However, users will see their rates increase.

The first phase of the project entails construction of a $13 million water pipeline that will tie Minden to north Douglas County and the Indian Hills General Improvement District as well as to Carson City.

Carson City’s portion of the cost will be $5.6 million. Work is scheduled to begin this summer with completion in fall 2011, said City Engineer Andy Burnham.

By blending good quality groundwater from the Carson Valley with water from some of the city’s wells containing arsenic and uranium, Carson City can meet new federal water standards without having to build treatment plants that could cost as much as $40 million.

The project will require rate increases, however.

“This will have a substantial rate impact,” Burnham said, “so we will look at phasing it in or just doing it all at once.”

The city will probably also look at changing its rate structure to ease the pain of the increase, but Burnham said he expects water rates could go up as much as

$3 per home a month.

Another plus to Carson City is that the city will be able to purchase 4,500 gallons per minute, considerably easing water alert situations that have plagued the city the past few summers. Peak demand is 17,000 gpm, Burnham said.

“This will allow us to operate more efficiently and reduce our operations’ costs,” he said.

The agreement gives Carson City the right to buy 1,250 acre feet of water rights from Minden and to transfer 2,000 acre feet of Carson City water rights in the Carson Valley.

The Carson Water Subconservancy District will reimburse Carson City $125,000 a year for 20 years for costs of increasing the capacity of the water system delivery regionally. The funding allows Carson City to increase the size of several water lines that are planned as part of the project.

The CWSD approved the agreement Dec. 16. Minden gave its OK Wednesday night and it goes to Douglas County next month for the final signature.

“By positioning ourselves for shared infrastructure, this is a great opportunity. It’s a huge move. I’m a big proponent of regionalized infrastructure, especially of resources,” said Mayor Bob Crowell.

Supervisor Pete Livermore agreed.

“This kind of cooperation hasn’t existed in the past, and this is the right time and the right place for it,” Livermore said.

Bob Hadfield, chairman of the Minden Town Board, said he was pleased to be a partner with Carson City.

“Probably people today don’t realize the significance of this event,” he said.

Greg Lynn, vice chairman of the Douglas County Commission, also praised the progress.

“There are folks outside of our region that would like nothing more than to get their hands on our water,” Lynn said. “This protects us, and 50 years from now, this will be considered one of the most far-sighted things to ever come through this region.”