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County will consider pooling water systems

Michael Schneider

Although any ideas are still in their infant stages, Douglas County may be looking to consolidate its various water systems in the future, said Commission Chair Jacques Etchegoyhen.

Currently the county has about 10 independent water systems, said Carl Ruschmeyer, the county’s utility manager, not including the General Improvement Districts, most of which are responsible for water within their districts.

Etchegoyhen said a problem the Tahoe-area independent water systems have in Douglas County is at least a third of their tax revenue goes to administrative costs.

“That’s not a very effective way to do it,” said Etchegoyhen. “We want to look at who can do it most efficiently.”

This actually has been done in two instances already, one at the lake and another in the valley.

The Skyland and Cave Rock water systems have been consolidated into one large system over the past two years, said Ruschmeyer.

Ruschmeyer said the Mountain View and Airport water systems located in the Johnson Lane area of Minden have also been consolidated.

He said the county is currently undertaking a comprehensive rate study of the various water districts and, as part of Capital Improvements Projects, may look to consolidate elsewhere.

Etchegoyhen said it would be cheaper to run water systems countywide, or even regionally, but admitted there is much distrust that must be overcome before the county’s General Improvement Districts and other water purveyors would listen to a proposal.

An example of this distrust and desire to run independent water systems came at Tuesday’s planning commission meeting when Elk Point County Club residents received the go-ahead from the planning commission to construct a 264-gallon water tank so that it won’t have to depend on the Round Hill General Improvement District for any water needs.

Currently Elk Point is able to provide its residents with domestic flow, or water for regular uses, but must hook into Round Hill for fire flow water, or large volumes of water needed to quell fires in the country club.

Elk Point residents not only agreed to do a study on the feasibility of such an undertaking at their own expense, but also agreed to pay for the construction even with the increased costs of making the tank site Tahoe Regional Planning Agency-friendly.

Candice Rohr, Kingsbury General Improvement District manager, said that her district board has not taken an official position on the concept of consolidating water systems as there has been no proposal offered by the county as of yet.

She said the district would evaluate any proposal put before it on a case-by-case basis and see if it might be advantageous to Kingsbury residents.

Ruschmeyer said that although there has been some talk in the county of eventually incorporating the GIDs into a countywide water system, plans are still on the drawing board and the county has little power regarding the districts.

Etchegoyhen said that while Douglas County’s lake residents would likely enjoy reduced water costs from a consolidation, the county’s valley residents might enjoy more of a benefit as a consolidation would help improve some water systems with poor quality water.


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