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HAFEN: Viewpoint distorts the fact about the water supply and safety

In the March 17, 2016 issue of The Mirror, Dave Caudle had published an “Open letter on Pahrump’s water” and had a Special to the Pahrump Valley Times titled “Read water article with open mind, not as gospel” published in the March 18, 2016 issue of the Pahrump Valley Times.

Mr. Caudle, in the articles distorts the FACTS about the water supply in Pahrump and the safety of Rapid Infiltration Basins (RIBs). He also writes, as FACTS, information that is not accurate and that he should know is not accurate.

Mr. Caudle claims that with only 39,000 residents in the valley, the water usage in the valley is basically in balance because there are 14,000 acre feet being used and 12,000 acre feet being recharged. The FACTS are that the Nevada Division of Water Resources (NDWR) has placed the current estimate of the annual recharge at 20,000 acre feet. He has to know that!

Mr. Caudle is correct when he states that we are currently using 14,000 acre feet. This statement is supported by NDWR. When the 14,000 acre feet number is subtracted from NDWR’s annual recharge of 20,000 acre feet it leaves 6,000 acre feet not being used.

Of that 14,000 acre feet being used, residential and commercial use is about 10,000 acre feet or about half of the annual recharge of 20,000 acre feet. Agriculture uses 4,000 acre feet. The FACTS show that there is additional water available for growth in the valley. So do not take it as “gospel” from the anti-growth faction that we are running out of water.

We are not running out of water and we won’t with good water management and responsible growth.

Mr. Caudle is correct when he states that there are some valley floor domestic wells where the water level is dropping.

A likely explanation is that the recharge coming from the Charleston Range does not travel through the soil makeup of the valley floor fast enough, or in enough quantity, to provide as much recharge water as a heavy concentration of domestic wells are removing from that area.

We still, however, have 20,000 acre feet of useable water being recharged into the valley, some of which is not being used. FACTS provided by data from NDWR monitoring wells shows that the water level on the east side of the valley in the valley fan areas, has been rising dramatically in the past 20 years. Mr. Caudle is well aware of this fact.

Another myth: “Paper water rights”, as Caudle says, carry no water. Wrong. The FACTS are that there is a legal right associated with water rights that are firmly grounded in Nevada law since the early 1900’s.

Mr. Caudle also misrepresents the Ground Water Management Plan. The FACTS are that it does not call for curtailment of existing domestic wells from 2 acre feet to a half acre foot and it doesn’t push for legislation to that effect either. Anyone who reads the proposed plan knows that.

With these and other misstatements or half-truths, Caudle and others have whipped up a “mob mentality” which one person publically identified at the last county commission meeting.

Mr. Caudle says RIBs will “…rapidly force this huge amount of poison water into drinking water into this valley.” No facts. No proof. Ask him to present scientific facts. Not “their” facts. The FACTS are that there is proof, from regular effluent testing by PUCI that is submitted to the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP), that the water being put into the PUCI RIBs tests very low for nitrates, fecal coliform, total suspended solids and biochemical oxygen demand.

There is no proof that Pahrump Utility’s RIBs have been contaminating or damaging their downhill neighbors. The FACTS are that the well water downhill from PUCI has been tested for years. NDEP, in a published fact sheet about PUCI, states “that discharges from the RIBs to groundwater may be diluting and improving the groundwater quality.”

Mr. Caudle is also wrong when he states that there are no municipal water wells west of the RIBs in Artesia. The FACTS are that Pahrump Utility has municipal wells directly to the west and the FACTS are that those wells are regularly tested and the tests prove they have not been contaminated.

Mr. Caudle, you know all of this. You have been shown the facts in the past. Your credibility is sorely lacking. Quit twisting and distorting the facts to try to support your anti-growth agenda. Responsible growth helps Pahrump’s economy and creates jobs.

There is certainly room in Pahrump for some growth without losing Pahrump’s rural atmosphere and without Pahrump running out of water.

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