Meeting addresses sewer plans |

Meeting addresses sewer plans

by Christy Chalmers

Representatives for Douglas County and the Indian Hills General Improvement District are hoping to make long-term sewer plans during a special meeting tonight.

County commissioners and district trustees will be discussing issues ranging from parks to land use planning in the northern Carson Valley.

Sewer service is expected to be one of the bigger topics, as the respective boards hash out a consensus on which areas the sewer plants they operate should serve over the short and long terms.

Managers for both entities said their respective staffs have been working on the matter, but they now need direction from the elected officials.

“It’s to the point where it’s no longer a staff decision,” said County Manager Dan Holler. “We haven’t seen eye-to-eye on the staff levels and we need to get the two boards together so we can proceed.”

The county operates the North Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant, while Indian Hills runs its own sewage plant, primarily for district residents. Planners need to determine which plant will serve growth that is expected in the northern Carson Valley on either side of Highway 395, as well as how to expand so they don’t duplicate or rob each other of customers.

“At this point, it’s a question of planning targets, who’s doing what and who’s going to take what responsibility,” said GID manager Jim Bentley. “This could be a very valuable get-together if the two boards can define the target areas and staff can plan against real targets instead of moving targets.”

Already, the county plans to absorb 70 Genoa-area residents who are now served by Indian Hills.

“Part of the challenge is to figure out how to do that, to let our customers become North Valley customers without hitting them (with hookup fees) again,” said Bentley.

Cash infusion? The sewer plans may even mean a cash infusion. Bentley said the district could apply for a federal economic development authority grant that would pay half the cost of future sewer improvements if officials could show that the improvements would help lead to new jobs, such as those created by shopping centers or businesses that would use the improvements.

“It’s worth a look to see if we have a presentable EDA project,” Bentley noted.

While Bentley and Holler have clear ideas of what they hope to accomplish, they acknowledged it may take more than one meeting and some debate.

But both are confident an agreement will be reached, citing a 1998 compromise that resulted in Indian Hills taking over the Ridgeview water system, a dilapidated, county-owned system that needed significant repairs. Ridgeview customers got a rate decrease and a reliable water source, while Indian Hills used the old system for backup and storage.

“I look for this to be a similar type of opportunity,” said Bentley.

Added Holler: “(Ridgeview) took a lot of work and negotiating. I think we can work the same sort of thing out here.

“It’s going to be a matter of give and take.”

What: Joint meeting between the Douglas County Commission and Indian Hills General Improvement District board of trustees

When: 7 p.m. tonight

Where: Indian Hills GID office, 924-D Mica Drive

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