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Raceway proposes water mitigation

The Nye County Water Board Monday voted to recommend approval of the development agreement with Spring Mountain raceway, providing Utilities Inc. issues a letter approving a new water and sewer utility within their service territory and an engineer issues a pro forma statement for the cost of operating it if Nye County takes it over.

Spring Mountain owners have offered to dedicate the $4.5 million water and sewer plant to the county if they will operate the utility. The development agreement calls for the sewer plant to be built on the Pahrump fairgrounds site across the highway where effluent could be used to water the ball fields.

Builder Russ Meads, owner of Double M Construction, said the Spring Mountain owners can’t get a permit themselves to operate the plants necessary to service the 80-lot subdivision and commercial development themselves. If the county chooses not to accept the offer, he will give the facilities to Utilities Inc. of Central Nevada.

Meads outlined mitigation measures in the development agreement. He said raceway owners already spent $550,000 to dig four holes on the alluvial fan for a retention basin, they finished four days before the big rain storm in late July that deluged Pahrump Valley. The large hole 25 feet deep filled up with water in two hours, he said.

“That’s nearly 23 million gallons of water that was in that hole that day that was acquired within two hours,” Meads said. “That water all went back to the fan in five days.”

Racetrack owners will remove natural grass already on the property and there will be conditions, covenants and restrictions (CC&Rs) on owners in the subdivision, who would have to use low-water, xeriscape landscaping.

“You can see that they have actually given us more water on site than they’re using by doing storm water retention, by putting the water back into the ground, through their RIB (rapid infiltration basin) systems,” Meads said. They will build the sewer plant and donate the effluent to the county, he said. “It’s not a pipe dream, it’s real.”

Water board member John Bosta said the town was given the fairgrounds property for public use and park land, not for a sewer plant. His motion to support the development agreement if the sewer plant was on racetrack land died for lack of a second. But Spring Mountain Motorsports could proceed without it. Pahrump was deeded the 427-acre fairgrounds property by a congressional act in 1997.

“We can build this entire facility on site. We have the ability to do that. It meets all the criteria and all the codes and all that or we have the possibility to build it at our expense and donate it to the town or the county, or to whoever may need it, to be able to be built and put on their property if they so choose,” Meads replied.

“As a builder it would be much, much easier honestly to just build it on site. I don’t need special permission, I don’t have to go to any more meetings, listen to someone who doesn’t want anything,” Meads said. “We have to decide in this community if it’s going to be built and given to us and finally to expand and have some of these things in our community, instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on theories that don’t come true. We would be amiss, and I believe we would be extremely irresponsible to not accept this and do all we can to embrace them.”

Without the recycled effluent Meads said he doesn’t think the fairgrounds project will ever develop.

Nye County drilled a 700-foot deep municipal well on the fairgrounds property in September 2012 as a $198,400 U.S. Housing and Urban Development grant was about to expire. Nye County Water District General Manager Darrell Lacy said the well water would be mixed with effluent to water the ball fields; he added the fairgrounds property still needs a sewer system for bathrooms. A question over how the town of Pahrump used $1.1 million from Nye County to purchase water rights for the fairgrounds was one of the factors leading to the ballot question in 2012 to revert the Pahrump Town Board to advisory status. Town Finance Director Michael Sullivan eventually said the money was used instead to purchase water rights for the proposed Kellogg Road Park and Ian Deutch Park.

“There are two people who could operate the utilities on the racetrack property itself or on the fairgrounds property and those are the same for either one. Either Utilities Inc. would own and operate it after it’s built and given to them or it would be given to the county who is the other legal entity who can operate a utility,” Meads said. When questioned, he said both would be interested in operating it.

Board member Michael Lach didn’t think the Nye County Water District was set up to run the water and sewer utility, nor would they be able to run it at a profit. Bosta said the water board was created specifically to operate water and sewer systems.

There were questions about the water park. Meads said it would bring in tourism, adding the benefits would outweigh the negatives. Meads said they currently own 30 acre feet of water rights on the commercial property from a well, they have commitments from water rights holders willing to sell more water rights. The racetrack presently uses commercial septic systems for sewage.

Lach was interested in the possibility of future development in that area. Meads said the water lines and water tanks will be built large enough to serve other developments down Highway 160. Lach asked if UICN took over the system they would dedicate water rights to build up Calvada Unit 9 or any of the surrounding area, a portion of the Spring Mountain raceway is in their service territory.

“There are issues with some of the water rights in that part of the valley. If UICN was to take over this system and operate the system they would have the ability to service areas in that part of the valley that have not had service for all these years. We are designing it correctly so if that were possible, it would be possible without ripping out the infrastructure we installed,” Meads said. “If the county took it, it would be the same scenario. I just don’t know what the (utility service) territory would be. UICN’s territory is very clear on the maps when you look it up.”