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Water upgrades could ‘stop the stink’ in Death Valley

Updated May 18, 2023 - 3:21 pm

While the views are breathtaking throughout the vastness of Death Valley National Park, the aroma in certain areas of the park literally “stinks,” according to the National Park Service (NPS).

Staff there report increasing numbers of water and wastewater system breaks, and park officials say water systems have failed at least 45 times last year. There have been five major sewer leaks.

Thanks to funding from the Great American Outdoors Act, action is being taken to rehabilitate the water and wastewater systems at Furnace Creek and Cow Creek in 2024.

Opinions sought

The NPS is seeking public feedback on the proposed project.

The release went on to state that the precious water and wastewater systems serve approximately 7 million visitors each year at Furnace Creek Visitor Center, Furnace Creek Campground, Sunset Campground, along with the Texas Springs Campground, and the Oasis at Death Valley resort.

Those water systems also serve about 800 residents in Timbisha Shoshone Village, and National Park Service housing.

Aging infrastructure

“The NPS proposes to rehabilitate the water and wastewater systems at Furnace Creek and Cow Creek, two of the largest utilities in Death Valley National Park,” the NPS said. “These systems have exceeded their lifespan in this extreme environment and will be rehabilitated and replaced.”

Fail-safe system

The proposed improvements, according to the release, will enhance employee and visitor experiences by providing a more reliable service.

The NPS also plans to add redundancies into the water systems so that potable water service can continue if there is a break in one section of the water main.

The systems will be designed to support anticipated future visitation levels and potential future facilities.

“Modifications will protect natural resources by reducing sewage spills and reducing water loss via pipe seepage and breaks,” the NPS noted. “The systems will be upgraded to meet regulatory codes.”

The public can review and comment on the proposal online at: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/WaterWastewater

Comments can also be mailed to: Superintendent Death Valley National Park, Attn: FC and CC Project

P.O. Box 579 Death Valley, CA 92328.

Comments will be accepted until June 16, 2023.

The NPS will consider all feedback in preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA), in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to develop and evaluate alternatives.

Once complete, there will be a second opportunity for public comment on the EA early next year.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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