Line break leaves TRE residents thirsty for info |

Line break leaves TRE residents thirsty for info

by Caryn Haller

As temperatures climbed into the 90s today, Topaz Ranch Estates residents were warned not to drink their tapwater.

The residents’ tempers were equally heated by the lack of information they said they had received about the situation.

“The biggest complaint I’ve been hearing was the reverse 911 system not working,” said Pat Wallace, owner of Wash ‘N’ Go, a potable water hauling business. “They want to know what is going on and why they haven’t been called.”

Wallace and his wife Sharon had dispensed approximately 800 gallons of water to area residents at the community center since Monday evening.

After a water main broke Sunday afternoon, more than 700 homes were placed on a boil-water order, which became a no-consumption order by Monday.

Community center volunteer Ronnie Park said the water situation has disrupted daily operations of serving lunches to the seniors.

“It’s a pain in the ass, but there’s nothing we can do about it. Nobody has said how long it’s going to be or anything,” she said. “We can’t wash our utensils here. Everything we use has to go to town and be washed at the senior center there.”

Resident Katherin Schaub has never been impressed by the water quality in Topaz Ranch Estates.

She said the water she boiled for 30 minutes Sunday night had a yellow-colored film on top of it.

“I feel better the water is coming out of another county. This is a tight-knit community and people are scared,” she said. “We need to have safe water in here no matter what it costs. This is one of our basic necessities we have to have.”

GID Board Chairman Larry Offenstein said if residents were not signed up in the reverse 911 system, they didn’t get a call. However, notices were posted throughout the community, and volunteers were cold-calling residents.

“A lot of people have gone away from landlines and their cell phones aren’t signed up either,” he said. “If they didn’t sign up, they didn’t get a call. We’re relying a lot on neighbors to help residents get water. This is a tight network out here.”

To get signed up in the reverse 911 system, click on the link under online services on the Douglas County website at

“We expect something this afternoon to see if we can get off the mandatory no-consumption order,” Offenstein said. “The system is fixed and running fine, but we have to get approval from the State of Nevada for safe drinking water.”

Multiple samples have been taken from the seven wells that supply TRE’s drinking water and sent to the Nevada Bureau of Safe Drinking Water in Reno for clearance.

Offenstein stressed that the water is still safe for animals, doing laundry, watering the grass and bathing.

“We encourage them to water trees, plants and lawns to help flush the system,” he added. “It’s no one’s fault. It was an act of God in a system that’s 45 years old.”

Jennifer Carr, bureau chief for the Safe Drinking Water office in Reno, said regulations require they have two consecutive sample results that have no bacteria before they can lift the boil-water order, and that the samples must be taken 24 hours apart.

The first sample was taken to the lab on Monday.

“We don’t have results yet. Hopefully we will by the end of the work day,” she said. “The second sample will be taken to the lab today. Depending on what those results are we may or may not be able to lift the boil-only order.”

Carr said the soonest all restrictions could be lifted is Wednesday afternoon.

“The water company will send out a notice, and everyone should wait for that notification to stop boiling water.”

Updates on the water situation are available by calling the GID office at 266-3000.