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County joins water authority

Sheila Gardner

With membership increased by one-third – the county joined – The Carson Valley Water Authority meets Tuesday, continuing its effort to recruit members and raise money to finance a response to a challenge to the upper Carson River.

“With the county as a member, we can now talk about regionalization in a more realistic way,” said consultant Jim Vasey who has been coordinating the water authority’s response to efforts to reopen the Alpine decree which regulates distribution upper Carson.

“With respect to county-owned systems, the town of Minden and the Gardnerville Town Water Co., we can talk about those three entities getting together to talk about a regional system serving part of the Carson Valley, and making beneficial use of the bank of water rights for the towns. Without the county involved, that was going to be extremely difficult to do.”

The water authority was formed more than three years ago by Minden and the Gardnerville Town Water Co. to protect the communities’ vast water rights from outside attack. The entity kicked into high gear in January after the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe asked the federal government to look at management of the upper Carson River.

The group has been recruiting new members, but so far only the county has joined.

Tuesday’s agenda also includes discussion of the interlocal agreement which formalizes membership in the water authority. Vasey addressed the Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District on Wednesday about the agreement.

“The Ranchos trustees indicated they would like to see some revisions before becoming a member,” Vasey said. “They were concerned that the water authority would assume too much responsibility over the different systems with language as they interpreted it in the draft. They would like to see it revised so there is a two-tier level of membership. They would like to have another level that would allow them to participate in a coordinated and unified approach with respect to protecting ourselves from the threat.”

Jim Bentley, manager of the Indian Hills General Improvement District, said his board of trustees questioned what joining the water authority means.

“The board voted to continue to send (chairman) Ron Kruse to the water authority meetings to represent Indian HIlls, but we want to see what instrument will be used to join. If it is the interlocal agreement, we have not taken that back to the board yet,” Bentley said.

Vasey said the water authority also will discuss continued financing of the work program.

“We’re a little short of money to complete the work program,” Vasey said. “Originally, we thought we were going to get $100,000 from the county and we got $80,000, so we’re about $20,000 short.”

So far, the county contributed $80,000, Minden gave $20,000 and Gardnerville Town Water Co. $5,000. At past meetings, the authority has discussed assessing the agriculture community for contributions.

The work program estimates monthly costs of $6,000 in addition to $72,000 for continued administrative and legal work, 50-year population and water use forecasts, identification of lands with Alpine decree surface water rights, and a mapping program.

Members of the the water authority also will hear an update on the status of the work program.

“We sent an update to the departments of Justice and Interior indicating what has happened over the last few months and what we’re working on,” Vasey said. “It’s positive that they haven’t taken any action.”

Vasey said the authority also sent a letter to the Paiute Tribe in response to the tribe’s request for information and a tour of the Carson Valley.

“We responded that the irrigation system is just about over and it would be better to have a tour when everything is being irrigated,” Vasey said.

The water authority referred the Paiute Tribe to the federal watermaster and the Nevada state engineer for much of the information requested.

The water authority meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Gardnerville Town Water Co. The meeting is open to the public.