As Johnson Lane residents were arguing against a monthly utility increase for water and sewer on May 1, Sierra Country Estates residents sought to keep their minimum water bill steady for the next six months at a $310 base rate per month.
That means the average monthly water bill for a Sierra Country Estates resident is $543.
“We would like to be part of a consolidated rate structure in the Valley,” resident Kevin Servatius said.
The Sierra Country Estates Water System was taken over by the county in September at the behest of the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection.
The system only serves 22 lots, but was declared a failed system by the state, and is in trouble with the State Engineer for exceeding its water allotment.
As with the water coming from Jobs Peak Estates’ well, the water is characterized as very aggressive, according to engineer Nick Charles.
With a pH of 6.5 to 6.6, the water corrodes copper from the pipes causing a state violation.
Most of the homes have an individual treatment system, but there are other problems. The 250,000 gallon tank attached to the water system isn’t sufficient for fire flow, and the system is 70 acre feet short of the water rights needed to meet the apparent demand.
Bringing a pipeline from Jobs Peak Estates could cost up to $1.1 million, which Charles described as a lot of money for 17 customers.
“It’s a very messy situation,” Charles said.
Servatius said that the real solution to the problem is to allow homeowners to drill their own wells. He said that someone is drilling a well less than half a mile from his home.
“We don’t want to be a burden to the county,” he said.
Resident Jim Lee said homeowners dedicated 38-acre feet of water rights to the development’s water system, but the county average is only 1.12-acre feet.
Resident Evan Maxwell said neighbors are exploring the possibility of a nonpotible irrigation system to water landscaping. None of the water in the system is used to irrigate the field in the gated community.
“Our ability to buy water to subsidize your landscaping is zero,” Commissioner Greg Lynn said. “It just won’t fly.”
County commissioners said they would move forward with an option that would build a waterline and upgrade one of the wells to satisfy summer demand. Meanwhile residents will continue to work on a parallel system to water landscaping they’ve invested in.