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Sewer project benefits Nevada’s Lake Tahoe residents

Jack Barnwell
jbarnwell@tahoedailytribune.com
Stateline residents pack the conference room at the Tahoe South Visitors Center on Highway 50 on Sept. 29 to learn about a proposed Douglas County Sewer Improvement District project. The proposed project includes a new reservoir in the Carson Valley for treated wastewater storage and new flood control measures.
Jack Barnwell / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

STATELINE — A Douglas County Sewer Improvement District project proposal vastly reduces the price to build a new reservoir site east of Gardnerville and Minden. If it isn’t approved, Douglas County residents at Lake Tahoe could face additional rate increases for the next 20 years in order to fully pay for construction costs.

According to engineer Robert Anderson, the district needs to build a new winter storage reservoir for exported wastewater. The site is located two miles east of East Valley Road in the Carson Valley.

The district’s proposal would save $12.3 million by mining, processing and selling commercial-grade gravel from the site. The alternative option is to raise rates in order to pay for construction costs.

The proposed project goes before the Douglas County Planning Commission in November and the Board of County Commissioners in January.

Anderson said his agency currently uses the Minden-Gardnerville Sanitation District’s reservoir, which is located on Bently Ranch in Minden, Nev. The reservoir is expected to exceed capacity by 2030 due to population growth in the Minden-Gardnerville area.

The sewer district serves Douglas County residents from Stateline to Glenbrook, Nev.

All treated wastewater must be exported from the Lake Tahoe Basin due to regulations adopted in the 1960s.

Kingsbury resident Natalie Yanish said the project makes sense, especially if it keeps rates down.

“Utility rates rarely stay the same or go down, so a project that avoids (rate increases) is huge,” Yanish said.

Yanish sits on the Kingsbury General Improvement District, which oversees water rates for the Kingsbury area of Stateline. It recently raised its water rates to build a new water treatment facility, so a sewer rate increase would be financially hard on residents.

“That’s tough because we seem to pay higher rates than people in other areas, so it could affect people’s ability to live here,” Yanish said.

Community concerns addressed

Anderson said the proposed project received opposition from property developers in the Carson Valley area. Those concerns include increased truck traffic, noise and dust pollution.

The district addressed those concerns in its proposal, according to Anderson.

Gravel mined and hauled from the site would use only one mile of public road and five miles of private road to reach Highway 395, one of the major corridors in the Carson Valley. If Douglas County imports gravel, increased truck activity will impact public roads and raise prices because of transportation costs.

By comparison, gravel hauled from Bing Materials in Gardnerville is less than one mile from the Gardnerville Ranchos neighborhood, which contains 3,085 homes and lots.

For noise and dust, Anderson said the site is located two miles from any developed area, surrounded by federal land and entrenched in an area that contains sound.

Benefits

According to Anderson, the district’s proposal includes several benefits.

Douglas County gets a flood control project around Buckeye Creek for less than $1 million and improved flood insurance rates for residents.

The project would also prompt new traffic and road improvements to address truck activity related to the gravel extraction.

Another benefit is the gravel that could be mined from the site.

Douglas County only has one local source of commercial-grade gravel, owned by Bing Materials. The gravel is used for concrete, roads and construction of driveways, parking lots and other community projects.

Anderson said estimates show that Bing Materials will exhaust its supply by 2020. Unless a new local supply is found, Douglas County would need to haul it in from another part of Nevada, raising the cost of transportation.

“I see the benefits community-wide as a public project that pays for itself,” Anderson said. “It also serves to remove a significant flood plain risk for residents living in the area.”


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