Commission appropriates water funds
County commissioners directed staff Thursday to dip into the county’s water 210 fund, which hasn’t been touched since its formation in 1989, to fund regional water projects.
“No project will be of benefit to every citizen of the county but if it benefits a significant number of people, then we thought that was good use of the fund,” Commis-sioner Jacques Etchegoyhen said in an interview Friday.
The fund, now containing $2.8 million, was set up for use by the Douglas County Water District, with a 7-cent tax per $100 assessed valuation on homes. When Douglas County residents complained that the money wasn’t earmarked for anything and was not being used to pay for water improvements, the commission set the rate to zero last year.
Even though the county-wide water district was also repealled in June 1996, the commission had new direction during the meeting at Stateline to support water projects both in the Valley and at the Lake with the fund.
The commission voted unanimously to finance Lake water systems with $400,000.
Etchegoyhen said the money proposed to be set aside for Lake water systems has not been earmarked yet, but instead used as an insurance policy “in case something happens.”
He said commissioners were nervous about these new water systems, which are complicated and expensive to operate. The $400,000 is needed until all the bugs have been worked out of the systems.
The China Spring Youth Camp and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe water litigation will each get $100,000 from the 210 fund.
The Carson Valley Water Authority is protesting the Paiute Tribe’s attempt to appropriate water from the upper Carson River for the Lahontan Reservoir.
The commission had already committed $20,000 to the litigation, but after another request for funds by the water authority, Etchegoyhen said the additional pledge could save millions down the road.
Holler said the state was adamant about the county’s responsibility to pay for a new tank at China Spring.
Commissioner Bernie Curtis grumbled over the state’s funding refusal, saying that it should be the state’s responsibility as delinquent youth from all around the state are using the facility located in Douglas County.
Holler said the state’s refusal was based on the fact that the camp’s employee wages are paid by a state tax rate and a bill to appropriate $700,000 for the building of a gym at the camp was pending.
The commission also agreed to move forward with the interconnection of the town of Minden, Mountain View and Airport water systems and include the Indian Hills General Improvement District.
Bruce Scott, engineer speaking on behalf of IHGID, said if the commission did not make a decision on the interconnection, the district – in desperate need of water – was prepared to spend $2.3 million on a water treatment plant.
Etchegoyhen said he thought a water treatment plant was “exorbitantly expensive” and “this (water) line really starts to bind Douglas County.”
He said no amount of money has been committed to the project but expected that it will cost a couple of million dollars.
Bob Loding, manager of the Round Hill General Improvement District said the commission had changed directions from last year.
“I’m happy to hear of the consolidation going on,” he said, “but I disagree with using the 210 fund for enterprise funds because only those special (districts) are getting the benefit of that.”
He said later after the meeting that Round Hill funded its water projects with user fees and state grants adopted for these systems.
Discussions on water issues will be finalized at the 4 p.m. budget hearing Wednesday at the County Administration Building, 1616 Eight St. Minden.