Officials to continue monitoring water in Belmont

Nevada officials said they will continue to monitor water quality in Belmont after a recent meeting that brought the area’s residents and state representatives to the Belmont fire hall.

Earlier this year, community spring flow in Belmont, a Nye County ghost town, tested positive for E.coli earlier this year, prompting officials to look for steps to address the issue.

Following the Oct. 21 meeting, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection is evaluating whether or not the spring is a public water system and the state agencies that attended the meeting will assist the town of Belmont in mapping the area’s septic systems and private wells to assist future town planning.

Barrett Evans, health program manager at the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, said that the Environmental Health Section will continue to monitor the developments, repairs, and improvements in the town by working jointly with the Nye County Planning Department and the town of Belmont.

“We are also reaching out to well-drilling companies in the area to review set-back requirements of the sanitation code to ensure that wells and septics have the spatial separation required by the regulations,” Evans said.

The Division of Public Behavioral Health would be the ones to GPS septic systems if Belmont invites division officials out, officials said. That would be a volunteer effort because the agency doesn’t have authority over private wells.

Water quality concerns

The state’s response was prompted by water quality concerns that have been raised by Belmont resident Neal Jones.

One of the wells tested positive for E.coli, however, officials said that the issue has since been remediated. Officials attributed the problem to mouse droppings.

“I’m fairly confident that the contamination at that site was related directly to the mouse feces found on top of it,” said Andrea Seifert, public water system compliance supervisor at Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, who was also present at the meeting.

During the meeting officials discussed septic system installation and permit requirements, as well as Belmont’s unique water situation.

Typically, most dwellings serviced by a septic system have a private well or municipal water source initially. Officials said Belmont had various parcels that used a spring source that has since become unreliable, forcing those residents to obtain a private well.

The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and Division of Water Resources also discussed the water rights issues to the spring source along with water quality concerns.

The water testing done previously in Belmont did not show nitrates above the maximum contaminant level of 10 milligrams per liter. Follow-up testing showed non-detects on the bacterials that were found on a couple of wells.

“Every septic system is going to have nitrates,” Seifert said. “If you live in a community or on a piece of property that has a septic system, a nitrate is just naturally a byproduct that goes out into an environment. So what you are trying to do is to keep your separation as much as possible.”

“Those bacterials were most likely due to the fact that the well-head/spring box was not properly protected from pests/rodent activity,” Evans said in an email. “Those issues have since been corrected: ranged from lack of a sanitary seal at the well-head and holes in the well-head cover to direct access to the spring source from entry points in the spring box.”

Outcome

The attendees of the meeting have jointly agreed to maintain open communication about septic and well installations to ensure that the systems are installed appropriately.

Most of the residents volunteered to indicate system locations for both wells and septic systems on their parcels, and a few have requested system evaluations to be done as offered by our agencies.

The Nye County Water District, represented by Oz Wichman, has volunteered to assist with monitoring of water quality.

The Nye County Water District has worked with property owners in the community of Belmont to organize sampling of several domestic wells, the spring and spring piping.

“I have been pleased with the level of cooperation exhibited by the community and have sincerely appreciated the constructive attitude and willingness to allow testing of numerous domestic wells,” Wichman said in an email. “I have also been pleased with the state agency’s willingness to attend public meetings, pull water samples and help all of us sort through the data.”

Those residents who attended the meeting said they would assist with continuous monitoring of the water by submitting water samples for laboratory evaluation.

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

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