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Pahrump Utility Company debunks water myths

During the session that was put on for Pahrump Utility Company, Inc. customers, the company’s officials sought to debunk several water myths and urged those in attendance to work on water conservation.

Tim Hafen, president of the PUCI, started the event by launching into the history of his business. Sitting at the table at Artesia Community Clubhouse, Hafen talked about moving to Pahrump in 1951 and purchasing 840 acres from Elmer Bowman, starting the wastewater treatment utility in 1998 and water service in 2002.

PUCI manager Gregory Hafen then gave a presentation on the company’s services that sought to dispel some of myths about water in Pahrump.

Hafen said PUCI isn’t stealing water from domestic well owners, adding that water rights were dedicated for domestic wells in the Cottonwoods neighborhood.

“In addition to that, every lot here in Artesia and every lot on the other side of the subdivision have dedicated water rights to the utility,” he told the audience. “Those are the water rights that we use to pump from the ground. We are not trying to steal anyone’s water.”

PUCI also has meters on every well for billing and reporting purposes. Hafen said the company supplies reports to the state of Nevada.

“And that’s to show to the state that we are not billing over our limits and using more water rights than we actually have,” he said.

Hafen said an average PUCI customer uses less than 300 gallons of water per day, 60 percent of which is used outdoors.

While the Nevada Revised Statute allows to pump up to 2 acre feet of water annually, Hafen said most domestic wells don’t use anywhere near that number. Most of them are using about half an acre foot, he said.

Contrary to the common worries about water shortage, Hafen said the Pahrump Valley isn’t running out of water, referencing the Nevada Division of Water Resources graph that showed water pumping hovering around 14,000-acre-foot mark. This, Hafen said leaves the valley with 6,000 acre feet of additional recharge available for pumping.

The state of Nevada issued over 60,000 acre feet of water rights for Basin 162. Additionally, Pahrump has 11,000 domestic wells. The amount of annual recharge in Basin 162 is 20,000 acre feet.

“The claim that we are running out of water, as you can see is just not true, not an accurate statement,” he said.

Referring to rapid infiltration basins or RIBs that have been a topic of much discussion at various county meetings in the recent weeks, Hafen said utility companies aren’t poisoning the water.

“And again, this is not true. This is not even close to being true,” he said.

PUCI has nine RIBs and currently uses two at a time. Hafen said the water has to go through 78-80 feet of additional filtration before it reaches the aquifer. RIBs also help to replenish the aquifer.

Hafen’s statements were reinforced by a host of Pahrump officials. Nye County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen, Utilities, Inc. of Central Nevada President Wendy Barnett and Nye County Water District General Manager Darrell Lacy took turns answering questions from the audience.

PUCI service areas currently include Cottonwoods, Artesia and Lakeside. It also services Hafen Elementary School and Floyd Elementary School, Burson Ranch Subdivision, Pleasant Valley Subdivision and the LDS Church on Manse.

Hafen encouraged those in the audience to conserve water. As suggested in the presentation, PUCI customers can use low-flow fixtures, tiered rates and detect early leaks for that purpose.

“We do live in a desert and we do all need to work together because it is a limited resource here in this desert plan,” he said.

PUCI hasn’t scheduled any additional events, but Hafen said the company plans to hold additional events in the future.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at dsokolova@pvtimes.com

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