Groundwater management plan moves to county commission

Tina Trenner moved to Pahrump from Las Vegas, led by the promises of a real estate agent who had told her about a water supply in the aquifer underneath the valley.

But 14 years later, Trenner, a California native, was frustrated to hear about the proposed Basin 162 Groundwater Management Plan that seeks to regulate new domestic wells and water usage in Pahrump.

“To come out here and have that kind of false representation and then now, all of a sudden find out that they are thinking about cutting water down to a half an acre foot from two acre feet, that’s a lot of water they want to take away,” Trenner said about the plan.

During the Monday meeting, members of the Nye County Water District Governing Board decided to pass the sixth draft of the plan to Nye County commissioners, adding that each member of the board will add their comments to the plan after a day-long discussion on some of its components.

The revised version of the plan presented on Monday included recommendations for water education and importation, limit on new domestic well usage to 0.5 an acre foot, construction of rapid infiltration basins and a water conservation plan that included restraints on water uses for agriculture, utility customers, government and school facilities.

“The plan today in my mind, represents a great of work that needs to be done,” said Nye County Water District Governing Board contractor Oz Wichman.

While officials touted the plan as a tool for water management, many of the local residents spoke against it.

“There are things to draw from this plan, it doesn’t have to be completely scrapped,” said Kenny Bent, an alternate of the Basin 162 Groundwater Management Plan Advisory Committee.

“The reason we are in here is because we didn’t have proper management and for you people to diminish the importance of management, it’s not good, it’s not good,” said Greg Dann, board chair. “We need proper management. It starts at the local level, the public, that’s what I’m talking about. The public. We need proper management and we haven’t had it for 50 years, there’s been a lot of negligence on the part of the town, there’s been negligence on the part of the county, there’s been negligence on the part of the state.”

Existing domestic wells aren’t included in the plan, officials said. In addition, existing domestic wells that require any type of rehab, refurbishment or replacement are recommended to be exempt from being considered new.

For Trenner, who has planted close to 40 trees on her property, water regulations could be devastating.

“The thought of losing my trees is just horrific,” she said to the board.

“When I water my trees, I count. Some of them are on bubblers, but if I go out with a hose, I count and when I hit 30, I stop. Is that enough? I think so.”

Both Trenner, Bent and numerous other Pahrump residents argued that plan contained special interests, including developers and utility companies.

“This need not be taken from the taxpayers. Taxpayers should not have to support developers, developers should do it themselves and come up with their own plan. … There has to be another way of doing this. But this needs to be funded by the developers, not the taxpayers. Taxpayers have enough burden as it is.”

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at Follow @dariasokolova77 on Twitter.