Meeting shows significance of growth but no conclusions
More than 100 people showed up for the annual Douglas County Forecast at the Carson Valley Inn on Wednesday. The event was sponsored by the Douglas County Building Industry Association and featured panel discussions and audience questions on such subjects as the Carson Valley water study, energy conservation, property taxes and the sustainable growth issue.
Hydrologist Doug Maurer spoke about the study done by Douglas County and the U.S. Geological Survey to measure the effects an increasing population has on the Valley’s water supply.
Maurer said the data gathered from the 2003-07 survey will be presented to the state engineer to determine how much pumpage the Valley can support.
“We don’t do much about setting rates,” said Maurer. “We see if the water is recharging the aquifer.”
From 1990 to 2005, annual recharge coming from waterways and precipitation ranged from 35,000 to 56,000 acre feet annually. New data shows discharge levels measured at up to 44,000 acre feet annually.
The “use it or lose it” question was addressed by Nevada Division of Water Resources Deputy Engineer Jason King.
King said with proof of beneficial use, landowners receive a certificate granting the final measurement of water they are allowed to use.
“If you have five years of non-use, you lose your certificate,” he said. “It doesn’t make you want to conserve water.”
Recent town meetings between residents and transportation representatives showed that traffic through downtown areas was one of the top concerns, according to Nevada Department of Transportation’s Deputy Director/Chief Engineer Scott Rawlins.
“We need your input and we’ll come back to you sometime in April with some recommendations on safety improvements, routes and network connections,” he said.
Energy-conserving programs available to both private homes and public businesses were presented by Sierra Pacific Power’s project manager Larry Rackley.
Rackley said rebates and incentives are available through utility companies for buying energy-efficient appliances or compact fluorescent light bulbs, upgrading air-conditioning and irrigation systems and installing solar-heating systems.
“Making your home or business more efficient saves you on your utility bill,” he said.
Douglas County Assessor Doug Sonnemann gave a rundown of the state of the county’s tax revenue situation.
“Sales per year have gone down but a single family residence has held steady,” Sonnemann said. “There’s a pretty strong market in Douglas County.”
The panel was asked how the county can keep up with growing costs and obligations.
“If you don’t have new construction, it could be a major problem,” said Douglas County comptroller/administrative services director Claudette Springmeyer. “You’re doing more with less.”
Opposing sides of the Douglas County growth cap issue were discussed by Rob Anderson of the Coalition for Smart Growth and John Garvin from the Sustainable Growth Committee
Anderson said running out of water and growth paying for itself are two emotional issues in the debate.
“Our group funded a study and analysis, and residential growth does pay for itself by a significant margin,” he said.
Garvin said he questioned the conclusions made by the Meridian study.
“Residential growth alone doesn’t pay its own way. You need balanced growth,” Garvin said. “If you don’t have an expanding population, you don’t have to spend as much to support infrastructure.”