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UICN to PUC: Expect higher rates

<p>Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times - Utilities Inc. Manse Rd facility.</p>

Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times - Utilities Inc. Manse Rd facility.

The 2014 integrated resource plan filed by Utilities Inc. of Central Nevada, which the company is required to file with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission listing capital improvements planned for the next three years, would require a 12.7-percent hike in residential water rates and a 3.5-percent hike in sewer rates, the company states.

“UICN will focus the next three years on those projects determined to be most critical. UICN will limit other capital improvements during this time to avoid customer rate shock,” states the introduction to the action plan.

When it comes to water conservation, the addition of water mains for various looping and interconnect projects provide additional infrastructure to discourage new, privately-owned wells, UICN states.

“As the demand over the planning period is projected to be minimal, there is little expected additional stress going to be placed on the groundwater supply. As such, the utility will continue its current conservation efforts to minimize non-revenue water, promote water conservation through education and maximize the use of reclaimed water to offset potable demands,” UICN states.

The plans are considered conceptual, not specific, before any field investigations of easements or projects outside public rights-of-way.

UICN estimates water service charges would increase from $17.82 per month to $20.09 for the smallest residential meters if the PUC approves.

The cost for the first 6,000 gallons per month would rise from $1.19 per 1,000 gallons to $1.34; for the second tier from 6,001 gallons to 2 million gallons the consumptive cost would increase from $2 per 1,000 gallons to $2.26; and from $3.04 to $3.44 per 1,000 gallons once a customer uses over 2 million gallons. Sewer costs for the smallest residential meters would increase from $46.26 per month to $47.88 per month.

Utilities Inc. spokesman Tom Oakley said the plan was formulated with input from Nye County, the town of Pahrump, Fire Chief Scott Lewis, Nye County School District and local developers, with emphasis given to their priorities.

“The impact on rates can’t really be known until a rate case is filed. Of course, rates are based on many factors and the rate impact described in the IRP is a singular snap shot at that point, without accounting for changes in expenses, depreciation, growth, consumption, etc.” he said.

UICN outlined projects it says will improve water delivery. They include:

— Installing a 3,700-foot extension of 12-inch pipe from Basin and Blagg Road to Desert View Hospital, providing a secondary water supply to Desert View Hospital in the event of a water main break on Wilson Road. The project is estimated to cost $339,764 and be completed next year.

— Installing a 900-foot, 12-inch pipe connection from Wilson Road to the fire hydrant at the entrance to Ishani Ridge subdivision, which also provides a secondary water source. The $102,367 project should be completed in 2017.

— Installing a 500-foot extension of 10-inch pipe on East Street to a water main on Highway 372, providing an additional loop to the system for backup water and fire protection. This is a $55,535 project estimated to be completed next year.

— Installation of 500 feet of 12-inch pipe from Pahrump Valley Boulevard to eight-inch pipe serving Mountain View Casino, providing a loop system with more reliable fire protection. It is projected to cost $61,085 and be completed next year.

— Constructing 3,000 linear feet of 12-inch pipe from a well to a water main just west of Dandelion Street on Firebird Circle, providing fire protection to the west side of Highway 160 without having to cross the highway in case of a fire. The $309,965 project should be completed next year.

— About 7,000 feet of 12-inch pipeline will be constructed to connect a pipeline at Blagg Road to the independent Mountain View Estates system at Bunch Street, adding it to the main system. The 27 customers will now have fire protection and more reliable domestic service, UICN states it will also provide fire protection where it doesn’t exist on Highway 372. The $643,621 project should be done in 2016.

— Connecting high and low zones where water will be cycled automatically, a $91,926 project scheduled for 2016.

— An updated, comprehensive hydraulic model of the entire UICN system, a $150,000 job scheduled for 2016.

— An interactive GIS mapping system, to better track individual consumption and water rights allocation, which should be in service next year at a cost of $240,000.

— A program to inspect each active well in the system over the next two years, allowing routine maintenance to increase their useful life, the estimated cost is $125,000 for Phase I and $175,000 for Phase II.

— A permanent emergency generator for the Country View Estates water facility, so customers don’t lose service in a power outage, a $77,567 project recommended in the 2008 plan and another at the Alfalfa Street booster pump station, costing $80,837.

Among other projects, a $50,000 Willow Creek master plan expected to be completed late this year. UICN anticipates further improvements, including rapid infiltration basins will be needed, the company also plans to establish a water education park on part of the 160-acre property.

Sewer improvements include:

—Upgrades to the dewatering system at sewer plant no. 3 on Willow Creek golf course. UICN admits the existing system is undersized for the current volume of solids to be treated, especially in the winter, requiring abandoned tanks for sludge storage. Several solids handling technologies could reduce operations and maintenance costs. It’s a $701,311 project expected to be done next year.

— Replacing sand filters at sewer plant no. 3 that don’t respond well to higher solids loadings with cloth media technology, a $569,614 project scheduled for next year.

— A permanent emergency generator at lift station no. 3 with an automatic, SCADA integrated, transfer switch, which carries a $155,245 price tag scheduled in 2016.

— A portable generator for various lift stations, costing $92,881, scheduled for purchase next year.

— A Plant F vactor truck disposal system that will no longer require plant workers to dispose of septage up a steep embankment at the local landfill receiving station. It will cost $191,590 and is scheduled for 2017.

— A spare submersible, aerator mixer at the Mountain Falls sewer plant, which processes air and mixing necessary to promote biological activity to treat sewage. It will be a backup if one of the current aerator mixers fail, which are 10 years old. UICN plans to purchase the $75,000 unit next year.

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