While driving along Highway 160 on Monday, Pahrump Town Board Vice Chair Bill Dolan said his frustrations were flowing like all of the rainwater, mud and debris from the foothills surrounding the valley floor.
Dolan is fed up with what he said is the apparent lack of concern from county officials in the aftermath of what can be considered moderate rainfall this past weekend.
“This is the fourth flooding we have had in the last 12 months. The commissioners were presented with, I believe in 2007, a flood control plan that they’ve never enacted. They haven’t even started work on it other than with what Mountain Falls helped them with on Gamebird Road,” he said.
Additionally, Dolan said the county has access to a funding source that may possibly get the effort slightly moving forward.
He noted that the money could be used for whatever the commissioners in office deem necessary.
“We’ve this extra money from PILT (Payment in lieu of Taxes). Why didn’t they take some of that money and correct the flooding problems? Why should our residents and our businesses in this community and southern Nye County be flooded out just because of their laziness?” he asked.
Aside from the main thoroughfares, the owners of several local businesses were forced to pull out their own respective shovels to liberate front entrances and parking lots of the mud and debris that accumulated after the storms.
Dolan also said other small nearby communities seem to get the attention of county officials more than Pahrump.
“We should not have to put up with substandard flood control. If we were in Beatty, Tonopah or somewhere else, it would be done. I don’t recall a flood control plan appearing on a recent county agenda whatsoever. How many thousands of dollars are we losing from having to clean this up and lost hours in businesses?” he asked.
Dolan said there are some short-term solutions that the county could undertake to help abate flooding on the south end of town.
“During a recent town board meeting there was a discussion of two water detention reservoirs behind the Spring Mountain Racetrack. The last time we had floods, it captured all of the water and they both filled up during that last storm we had. Within a few hours it was absorbed back in through the aquifer. It would not take much for the county to dig a few basins instead of paying all of this money for damaged roads, cleanup and lost revenue,” he said.
This week, crews from the Nevada Department of Transportation can be seen all along Highway 160 working to clear the roads.
Highway Maintenance Supervisor Nanette Graham said the process has been time-consuming due mainly to the consistency of the soils.
“It’s going to take a while because we have to hit it with so many passes. Yesterday we came out and scraped as much mud as we could off the road and got it on the shoulder. Today we are scraping out of the gutter into the road and then we’ve got the sweeper which is going to go three or four times. It’s all runoff from the mountains and it happens every year when the rains are falling on Mount Charleston. It’s pretty nasty stuff,” she said.
Moreover, Graham said once the roads are cleared, there are additional projects that will require her crews’ attention, including cleaning culverts, which allow water to flow beneath a roadway, trail or other obstructions.
“It has created a lot of eroding on our culverts, so we’ll have to come out and do culvert cleanup as well, but we have to get the roads clear first,” she said.
Graham did have good news for locals who use Highway 160 to commute to Las Vegas regularly.
“We didn’t have anything along that stretch of the highway, so we were really lucky. We did get a call late yesterday about milepost 37 toward U.S. 95. I sent some guys out there and put up warning signs. I have somebody out there right now checking the shoulders because we were busy doing this,” she said.
The supervisor agreed that something does need to be done to remedy the situation.
“Pahrump was built at a time when small culverts were okay. We do need to get some better culverts and drainage systems because all that water comes down and hits the highway. Nye County is responsible for most of the side roads, while we have the highways. Either way, something needs to be done.”