The owners of Spring Mountain Motor Sports are willing to donate a $4.5 million water and sewer utility to Nye County, which will allow the use of recycled effluent for the proposed fairgrounds ball fields.
The alternative is for the owners to build the plant and donate it to Utilities Inc. of Central Nevada. While UICN supported the county plans, the company questioned whether Nye County is ready to take over a utility, as outlined before the Nye County Water District Board by builder Russ Meads, owner of Double M Construction.
UICN said they are “ready, willing and able to provide the required service.” Portions of the project are in their service territory.
“Obviously, because it is our business, we have the expertise necessary to perform the due diligence and move the process forward quickly,” UICN President Wendy Barnett said.
The sewer plant would be capable of treating up to 100,000 gallons per day. A water tank will be built to hold up to 1.047 million gallons. Nye County would not have to go through the Public Utilities Commission for approval to operate a utility. But Barnett questioned the legality of a county-run utility at Spring Mountain Motor Sports.
“The county’s attempt to take on the water and waste water responsibility for the project appears to run afoul of the existing Nye County Water Act and it also appears that they are aware of that since they’ve sent it to the water district for discussion,” she said. “In addition to the timing risk associated with the legal flaws, any project of this magnitude requires infrastructure due diligence. And it is becoming increasingly clearer that the county hasn’t even prepared initial budget figures for this type of work which risks delaying the project even further. Ultimately, the costs for that work will fall on taxpayers which will require a public vetting of some sort.”
Barnett referred to Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 542 which created the Nye County Water District. In section eight it states: the district shall not exercise the power of eminent domain to acquire any portion of water rights or waterworks facilities owned or used by a public utility issued a certificate to provide water in a service area unless it also acquires all the assets of the utility including private property. The act also forbids the water district from interfering with or diminution of water or water rights within the district and interference with this water that may endanger or damage the residents, lands or use of water in the district.
The Nye County Water Board recommended approval of the development agreement, if UICN sends a letter of approval and the county receives a pro forma of the estimated operating costs of the utility.
UICN didn’t say if they would issue such a letter. But Barnett said they were supportive of elements of the plan Meads laid out.
“UICN is fully supportive of what appears to be a great project for the community. As laid out by Mr. Meads in his most recent presentation to the water district, the Spring Mountain project should bring jobs and tourist dollars to Pahrump with a world-class facility,” Barnett said. “The plan also includes substantial xeriscaping and storm-water recharge which we obviously applaud and support given our emphasis on the need for increased conservation efforts in the valley.”
UICN is awaiting a public hearing on the proposed development agreement before the county commission next month and a chance to get more details about the full plan.
Lacy said the Nevada Attorney General’s office issued an opinion that said the county could operate a utility even if it was within a utility company’s service territory.