Commission: Quarry complies with special use permit
Douglas County Commissioners agreed Thursday that a longtime Gardnerville quarry operator is in compliance with the county’s special use permit, despite efforts by nearby homeowners who claimed otherwise.
More than 200 people, mostly supporters of the quarry, gathered at the old Minden Courthouse and applauded after commissioners unanimously found Bing Construction had not violated any of the county’s environmental regulations in its quarry operation.
The Bing quarry is located off Kimmerling Road near Tillman Lane outside of Gardnerville Ranchos.
The hearing lasted nearly four hours and testimony was taken from homeowners, engineers and county officials.
Although commissioners agreed Bing Construction was in compliance, they required owner Gerry Bing to produce an annual report on all elements of the special use permit. They also asked that a second groundwater monitoring well be installed.
As a condition set in the use permit last year, Bing was required to put up a $772,000 bond to the county. Commissioner Kelly Kite said the bond issuance and the annual report is a good leverage tool that should keep the quarry in compliance.
“The bottom line is we don’t have to trust him. We have $772,000 to say fix it or we will pull your bond to fix it,” Kite said.
Homeowners have expressed concern, primarily over groundwater monitoring, and the depth of three ponds that they claimed could penetrate the groundwater table. The homeowners disputed terms of a permit that allowed for the depth of the pond, claiming the ponds were 30-to-40 feet deeper than what was allowed.
But at least three engineers testified to the contrary, saying the depths of the ponds, which hold water that is used to wash quarry rock, meet permit conditions and that if the ponds did penetrate groundwater, they would fill with water rather than seep.
Nearby homeowner Mark Brune argued that the best prevention for groundwater contamination is to not have a risk in the first place. He said that once contaminated water reaches the tables “it would be too late” to stop.
Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen argued the opposite, citing water engineers who said that breaking into a water table would push groundwater upward, not downward.
“If you are well into the water table, you couldn’t pump out the water fast enough,” Etchegoyhen said.
Commissioners Don Miner and Steve Weissinger pointed out that an extra groundwater monitoring well is an added safeguard that should ease some of the concern by nearby residents.
“I think there are valid concerns weighed by residents, but I think Mr. Bing has done due diligence” in seeing that safety standards are met, Weissinger said.
After the meeting, Brune, a medical doctor, said he hopes the county will keep a sharp eye on the quarry, the annual environmental reports and concerns from homeowners. He also said he would like to see state environmental regulators get involved.
“I hope it doesn’t end here,” he said. “I hope the commission continues with more stringent water quality controls. I would also like to see the state of Nevada Environmental Protection Agency incorporate extensive water testing as they did back in 1994.”
Brune added that if contaminated ground water traveled at 90 feet per minute, the environmental effects could be disastrous and widespread.
“By the time the contaminates hit the monitoring wells on the grid well, it would be too late,” Brune said. “The whole Valley would be affected.”