Minden signs ‘landmark’ water agreement
GARDNERVILLE, Nev. – Minden officials signed “landmark” agreements Wednesday that pave the way for a regional water system they say is unique in Nevada and the West.
The interlocking agreements are between Minden and Douglas County to provide wholesale water service, Minden and Carson City for purchase of water rights and Minden and Indian Hills for water service.
“We deliver wholesale to Douglas County and they have wholesale agreement with Indian Hills and Carson City,” said Bruce Scott, Minden’s engineer.
The agreements were drafted after two years of negotiations between the four entities and 15 years after Minden petitioned the state engineer to collect water rights throughout Carson Valley.
“It meets the goal we set 15 years ago when we expanded our boundaries,” Minden Town Board Chairman Bob Hadfield said after the meeting.
The $21 million project is viewed as the answer to protecting Minden’s 12,000 acre-feet of water rights and to supply safe drinking water to north Douglas County and Carson City.
Hadfield said he’s never seen a similar accord in his 32 years in dealing with water issues including stints as Douglas County manager and executive director of the Nevada Association of Counties.
“Water is the most valuable and volatile commodity we have,” Hadfield said. “It’s frequently managed with animosity and angry discourse. This is a monumental step. I anticipate that within three years the Nevada Legislature would have imposed these agreements. By doing this today, our partners have insured local people will maintain local control over their destiny.”
Carson City Manager Larry Werner and Public Works Director Andy Burnham, who attended Wednesday’s Minden session, presented their agreement to supervisors Thursday.
“We’re happy to be partners,” Werner said. “This is absolutely landmark. Look at what it took to get these entities to come together.”
Indian Hills is to act on the contract next week and county commissioners hear the item Jan. 21.
“I think we’ll be long gone before people realize what we’ve done here,” said County Commissioner Greg Lynn.
Transporting the water will require the construction of a pipeline between Minden and Carson City. Supplying the water will require the construction of booster pumps, water tanks and wells.
Minden has already paid for a 24-inch line to Heybourne Road, where it is supplying the county’s East Valley Water System. The town paid for the line, and will be reimbursed by the county.
Carson City is proposing to purchase $10 million in water rights from the town through a bonding process and may transfer rights it owns in Carson Valley to Minden.
The water system will provide a means for emergency water supplies throughout Western Nevada.
Officials estimate that Carson City will have to pay $32 million for its portion of the pipeline, the infrastructure to connect in the capital and the water.
Indian Hills, under the gun to meet federal arsenic standards, is expected to pay up to $4.5 million to connect to the new pipeline and for its portion of the pipeline north.
“Indian Hills has come a long way in a no-win situation,” Scott said.
District Manager Jim Taylor said Indian Hills needed the agreement to secure financing for their part of the project.
“Loaning institutions are asking us, ‘What have you got?’ When we sign the agreements, they’ll be willing to talk to us,” he said.
Douglas County is paying $3.2 million for the pipeline, and will be the broker for water that passes through it.
Between water rights and improvements needed to supply water, Minden has $20 million in the project.
Town officials emphasized Wednesday that residents were not carrying any extra financial burden.
“We’re selling small increments of water, we’re holding onto water rights. We’re selling only what we needed to build improvements to protect the town’s water and deliver what we promised,” Hadfield said.
Minden obtained a $100,000 grant from the Carson Water Subconservancy District to reimburse the town for engineering and design costs.