TONOPAH — Nye County Commissioner Butch Borasky suggested the public be allowed to vote on a Pahrump drainage plan first proposed in 2007.
His suggestion came after complaints by residents like Pahrump Town Board Vice-Chairman Bill Dolan about flooded-out streets after rains this past weekend.
“I remember 10 years ago the amount to take care of that in Pahrump is $500 million. I’d like to have staff look at that again and next election cycle put it on the ballot and see if voters want it. It’s going to take a huge amount to even start it,” Borasky said. “The numbers are going to be astronomical. I’d like the public to be able to see that so when they make their arguments they know the dollar amount that goes with it.”
Borasky said unfortunately rainfall will fall hard in one place but not in another.
“When are we going to stop living and being treated in Pahrump like third world citizens?” Dolan complained under public comment. “We had no major problems out on the south end but you start at Winery Road and you go north to Home Depot it looks like a war zone.”
Dolan said state and county crews were working to clean up muddy streets left by the rains because county officials failed to follow up on a 2007 flood control plan. He noted William Lyon Homes reimbursed the county $93,000 for a flood control project along Gamebird Road and Yucca Springs Road, just north of the Mountain Falls subdivision.
Actually, the plan Borasky was referring to, a Pahrump regional flood control master plan prepared at a $386,946 cost by Bureau Veritas, proposed a $315 million project including dams on the east side of Highway 160 to control floodwaters, then a series of detention basins and channels carrying the flows to the California state line. It was accepted by county commissioners in September 2009.
The study said an advantage to doing the project was Nye County residents wouldn’t have to pay for flood insurance for houses in the flood plain. Former County Manager Rick Osborne said at the time by accepting the plan the county could have applied for a $100 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly called the economic stimulus package.
The plan would be to create a general improvement district and levy a fee of $180 per acre per year to pay for the grand plan, but that was struck down. The flood control plan suggested three options, beginning at $160 million for just the series of nine dams on Wheeler Wash.
Borasky said he drove on White Road in Crystal Monday, which had major flooding, but managed to drive through it with his vehicle.
Tim Carlo, a road foreman for the Nye County Public Works Department, said the storm that hit Pahrump struck Rainbow Drive through the center of town but fortunately didn’t impact the south end of town.
“Our first priority is getting people into their businesses and homes,” Carlo said.
He said crews from Crystal, Amargosa Valley and Beatty were doing everything they can to make White Road in Crystal passable.
County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen said the county has been working with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for some type of berm diversion of floodwaters behind Squaw Valley Road on the south end of Pahrump. While the county is waiting on the community to decide if they want to spend $500 million on a flood diversion project the county could work on the Wheeler Wash, he said.
Public Works Director Dave Fanning said the berm would address floodwater runoff farther south from Trout Canyon and Carpenter Canyon.
“So about that plan we would be doing with the BLM, it’s very hard to control. You have to go through their protocol status,” Fanning said.
Schinhofen said he was working with county staff to research grants to continue the flood control project on Gamebird Road to Homestead Road. But Schinhofen said Pahrump Valley is so vast, it can rain in one area but not another.
Schinhofen said when someone asked him, he said his job was juggling cats.
“If we’re not juggling your cat, when an issue comes up then we’re not doing anything. We’re juggling cats,” he said. “To do the whole valley is a huge undertaking and something the whole community is going to have to be behind. It will be a big, big dollar amount.”
Commissioner Donna Cox didn’t favor the county spending money on a big flood control project.
“As far as the flooding goes, we don’t have the population and the growth to justify spending $500 million on flooding and as the valley develops, if it develops, we’re going to have better flood control with the projects as we get the projects in,” Cox said.