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Belmont water concerns prompt officials’ response

A community spring flow in Belmont, a Nye County ghost town, tested positive for E. coli, and officials are looking for steps to address the issue.

The issues about the Belmont water system originated from several complaints about the groundwater and domestic wells’ proximity to the septic systems were filed by one person.

Barrett Evans, program manager for the environmental health unit at the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, and Jennifer Carr, deputy administrator for the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, recently talked to Nye County officials about the environmental concerns in Belmont.

“The original idea was for EP to provide an independent third party that could go out and sample, particularly the community spring, because there was some potential controversy over water quality in the spring and so we agreed to go out there as well as assist with sampling of a fee resident’s domestic wells who wanted to volunteer for such a sampling event,” Carr said.

Nevada Division of Environmental Protection officials sampled the Belmont spring and domestic wells at two residences that are served by the community spring. Nine other domestic well owners also volunteered their wells.

“We generally sampled the wells for both bacteria and nitrates to give us a potential indication of impacts on septic systems. Overall, we did find that nitrates in the groundwater were relatively low, and there was no widespread imminent public threat,” she said.

Samples taken

While seven of the nine sampled locations didn’t have any detectable bacteria, one revealed the presence of E. coli bacteria.

“Since then, it’s my understanding that the well owner has disinfected and flushed the well a couple of times. I believe indicators are now that it is clean,” Carr said.

The community spring flow also returned E. coli results, officials said.

“Four of the five samples that officials collected from the spring overflow did return E. coli, so we did have conversations with Nye County and provided them guidance on the options that they had to communicate with the public about the water quality in that spring,” Carr said.

The regulatory threshold for a public water system is 15 connections serving 25 people, and Carr said officials aren’t expecting the spring in that town to be a regulated public water system. However, based on the records, there’s a potential to have 15 connections that have domestic water uses on their water rights filings, she said.

Public meeting in the works

Evans and Carr suggested an educational meeting for residents of Belmont where officials would discuss the results that they’ve obtained and offer assistance with GPSing well heads and septic system infrastructure.

“The town hall meeting mainly would be to gather information from the full-time residents and any seasonal residents that might be in the area, and to see if they need assistance,” Carr said.

Belmont is along former Nevada Highway 82. The town has less than six full-time residents and a number of part-time residents.

“One of the things that we would like to do is to reach out to property owners who may potentially have a spring connection for domestic use and make an official determination whether there’s a regulatory requirement for NDP to oversee that spring as a public water system,” she said.

“I’m not expecting that but that seems to be a gray area that we need to button up,” Carr said.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at dsokolova@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @dariasokolova77

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