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Liquid seepage in Mountain Falls causes concern

Nye County Public Works Director Dave Fanning alerted the County Commission on Monday of a “high fecal count” in a treated liquid waste spill at Mountain Falls Golf Club on Manse Road.

Fanning said county employees noticed a “spill” encroaching on Manse Road near the site of a road improvement project on Dec. 17, 2014. He said employees noticed fluid seeping at the corner of Manse and Homestead Road.

Fanning told the commission that “effective” measures were taken by county employees to prevent the seepage from entering the roadway. Both Mountain Falls Golf Club and Utilities Inc. of Central Nevada were notified of the problem, Fanning said.

The spillage, he said, was due to Mountain Falls Golf Club pumping out their golf course pumps.

The pumps discharged to golf course greens and into over-spillage ponds, he said. He reported the spill to Nevada Department of Environmental Protection and took samples from the ponds. Those samples, he said, revealed a fecal matter count that was “out of sight.”

His visit to the ponds revealed dead and dying wildlife, which, he said, is concerning. The day after Fanning made the spill report to Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, Mountain Falls Golf Club informed him that they were shutting off their pumps.

An initial report has been released by NDEP, which provides a different view of of the cause of the spill, the timeline and indicates who may be responsible.

NDEP inspector David Lloyd provided preliminary findings to Nye County on Dec. 31, 2014. The report was prefaced in an email with comments by Bureau of Water Pollution Control Supervisor Joseph Maez.

“We did not see a direct connection with treated effluent or raw waste water,” Maez said. “Stormwater management appears to be the issue.”

It could not be determined who was responsible for stormwater management at the site, what type of remediation efforts, if any were required, or whether citations and fines were to be levied. Maez did not respond to an email seeking clarification by press time.

Wendy Barnett of Utilities Inc., responded via email on Jan. 6, that, “UICN doesn’t have anything to do with the stormwater management at the Mountain Falls Golf Course.”

Greg Moynahan, manager of Mountain Falls for developer William Lyon Homes, did not respond to a phone call by Tuesday’s press time.

Nye County Planning Director Darrell Lacy told the commission that the situation mirrors that of the Willow Creek Golf Course.

“This is a problem for Mountain Falls, not for UICN, as far as we can tell,” he said. Lacy said a viable solution is to install a system so that if the golf course can not handle effluent from the sewer plant, an alternative is available. Lacy further explained that the discharge from the sewer plant could be “good” and the pond water could result in a positive fecal test due to the presence of water fowl, or other wildlife.

Jack Osburn, utility superintendent for Nye County said the county’s long-term goal is to make sure that discharge from the site that could impact private or public areas is controlled. The contaminated water is on Mountain Falls Golf Club property, he said. That, Osburn said, “Is between them and the agencies that would regulate that.”

County officials await a final report from NDEP. “We wanted the board to be aware of what we are facing,” Fanning said.

In other water-related business, Fanning reported that a road improvement project at the intersection of Hacienda and Homestead roads is ongoing. There has been a 45-day ongoing water leak at the location, coupled with the loss of a UICN employee which has delayed a fix to the leak. Once the leak is repaired, the county can finalize the road improvement project at that location. A temporary “patch” has been installed at the location with pipe repairs expected to follow.

Fanning said he anticipates a set of engineered plans for the repair work to be available later this week.

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