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Northern Nye nonprofit water utility cooperative’s board resigns

Shoshone Estates Water Co., Inc., a nonprofit water utility cooperative, is under emergency operations by the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection after the co-op’s entire board resigned.

Nye County Water District Governing Board Contractor Oz Wichman said the cooperative’s entire board of trustees had resigned, citing various frustrations with its regulator, NDEP, and not being given sufficient time to lower the level of arsenic in its water system.

“This situation is still developing but from a perspective of status,” Wichman said.

JoAnn Kittrell, public information manager at the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, declined to comment on why the board had resigned.

“We cannot speak to why the volunteer board members resigned, that was their personal decision,” Kittrell said.

The Nye County Water District Governing Board loaned $11,000 to Round Mountain-based Shoshone Estates Water Co., Inc., without any interest in 2014 for arsenic treatments in its water system. The money was supposed to cover the services of the engineering firm for Point of Use arsenic treatment. The cooperative also got a grant for $11,000 from Round Mountain Gold Corporation.

Wichman said the cooperative had been making payments on a loan “in good faith” and already cut a check to Nye County for the remaining amount of owed money.

The cooperative’s water system had been out of compliance with arsenic levels prior to approval of the loan. The money was supposed to remedy the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of arsenic in its system that was 25 parts per billion. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard is 10 parts per billion.

With the exception of arsenic non-compliance, the water system is currently compliant with primary drinking water standards, according to NDEP.

The pilot testing for Point of Use treatment is completed and has indicated favorable results. Based on information from Day Engineering, the cost of installation at each private residence will be $500-$750. Funding options were being pursued prior to dissolution of the board, according to NDEP.

There are 240 people served by 78 connections on the cooperative’s water system.

In the meantime, the water system is being overseen by a certified operator to bridge the period of emergency operations, according to the NDEP’s fact sheet.

“The emergency funding covers the general oversight of the water system to simply keep water flowing to homes and businesses. Basic tasks include well and tank inspections, disseminating information, and total coliform sampling. The water users would be responsible for other costs incurred, such as infrastructure replacement and repair, chemical monitoring, and labor costs,” the document reads.

Officials are considering putting a system into receivership proceedings.

“The NDEP is working with the Public Utilities Commission on the probability of seeking district court appointment of a receiver to financially oversee and physically operate the system until such time a new owner is in place, or a new board can be established,” Kittrell said.

Nye County and the Nye County Water District Governing Board were unable to take on operations of the cooperative, citing budgetary constraints and various other obligations.

Until a permanent solution is achieved, consumers can use bottled water for drinking and cooking or install an NSF/ANSI approved Point of Use device at their own expense.

“NDEP highly recommends that if a consumer takes this approach, they install devices previously tested and approved through the Shoshone Estates pilot testing, retain documentation that it was installed by a licensed plumber, and install in a manner previously approved by NDEP,” officials said. “You can work directly with Day Engineering on this approach.”

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

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