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County: Water loads to Yellow Pine Solar project must stop

Nye County officials are protesting an application recently filed with the Nevada Division of Water Resources that would allow the continued transportation of water from a local gravel pit site to the Yellow Pine Solar Project.

Filed by Wulfco and Wulfenstein Trust R-150, the application requests a change in point-of-use for water rights appropriated under base right (92878T) and to change the point of diversion, place and manner of use of a portion of waters appropriated under base right (92940T).

Nye County Public Works Director Tom Bolling told commissioners last month that Wulfco and Wulfenstein Trust have been trucking water out of what is known as the Crazyhorse gravel pit but their permits have expired and they must reapply to transport resources.

“Instead of using it in the Crazyhorse pit, they are trucking it to the solar field in Clark County, on Tecopa Road,” Bolling told commissioners last month. According to information presented at that time, “As many as six 9,000-gallon water trucks are currently hauling water back and forth daily.”

Public hearing set

The county is set to hold a public hearing on the matter during the commission’s Dec. 5 meeting, which also includes an item to ratify action already taken by Nye County Water Rights Engineer David Hillis, who filed a protest on Nye County’s behalf.

“The protest was filed… on the grounds that the proposed extensions and changes of use will further degrade the water resources for the town of Pahrump and could cause damage to Basin #162’s water supply,” agenda item #19 for the upcoming meeting states.

However, it’s not all protest. The county has offered an alternative solution for Wulfco and Wulfenstein Trust’s consideration.

“Nye County asks that the application be denied unless the applicant agrees to drill a temporary well in the southern portion of Basin #162 but still within the boundaries of Nye County,” the agenda item explains. “The actual site of the well should be defined by Nye County science staff and agreed to by the Nevada Division of Water Resources and the applicant. The proposed change of the point of diversion would decrease the negative impacts to the groundwater resources and also alleviate the congestion and damage to local roads. Once the well is complete, it should also be made available and included in the inventory of wells used by the Nye County Water District.”

The Yellow Pine Solar Project, owned by NextEra Energy Resources, was approved for approximately 3,000 acres of land in Clark County near of the intersection of Highway 160 and Tecopa Road and about 10 miles southeast of the town of Pahrump.

“The project includes solar generation power plant and ancillary facilities… that will produce approximately 500 megawatts of alternating current,” information from the Bureau of Land Management states. “The project also includes the Trout Canyon Substation and associated GLW 230-kV transmission line.”

The Yellow Pine Solar Plan of Development documents discuss the water usage associated with construction at the site.

“Initial construction water usage would be in support of site preparation and grading activities,” the company’s plan of development details. “During earthwork for the grading of access roads, foundations, equipment pads and Yellow Pine Solar Project components, the main use of water would be for compaction and dust control. Smaller quantities would be required for preparation of the concrete required for foundations and other minor uses.

“Subsequent to earthwork activities, water usage would be in support of dust suppression and normal construction water requirements that are associated with construction of the building, substation, internal access roads and solar arrays. The total water usage during construction would be approximately 1,200 acre feet over a 24-month period for full build, not including the initial approximately six months for perimeter tortoise and security fencing installation,” the plan of development continues. “A single 250 MW phase would use approximately 800 acre-feet over an approximate 18-month construction period. Construction water needs for dust control and washing would be obtained from a commercially available source and trucked to the site.”

Residents can attend the Nye County Commission’s Tuesday, Dec. 5 meeting in Pahrump at 2100 E. Walt Williams Drive and in Tonopah at 101 Radar Road. A teleconference line is also available.

For call-in instructions or to view the agenda in full visit www.NyeCountyNV.gov

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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