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NDEP says no to request

by Andy Bourelle

The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection has responded to the Gardnerville Ranchos’ request for a one-year extension for some residents not hooked into the sewer system by July 1.

NDEP said no.

“The district responded responsibly and established a reasonable schedule for requiring connections,” reads a June 15 letter from James B. Williams, chief of NDEP Bureau of Water Pollution Control, to the Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District. “I don’t believe it would serve any useful purpose to delay requiring any connections for another year.”

At its June 3 meeting, the GRGID board of trustees agreed to approach NDEP, which is requiring GRGID to mandate the sewer hookups, to ask for an extension for certain residents with financial hardships. Board member Vic Hyden made a motion at the meeting to ask for a one-year extension for all residents, but the motion died for lack of a second.

The recent refusal, said GRGID Manager Bob Spellberg, shows that Hyden’s proposal also would have been denied by NDEP.

The sewer system was first installed in the Ranchos in the 1970s through a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. As a condition of the grant, the district had to guarantee that residents connect to the sewer system, but a time limit was not established.

Earlier in the 1990s, NDEP contacted GRGID, explaining that the district must compel home owners to convert to the sewer system. In January 1997, the board agreed to give homeowners 18 months – until July 1, 1998 – to connect to the system.

If GRGID does not mandate hookups, NDEP can have the Environmental Protection Agency seek a refund of the grant funds – amounting to a loss to the Ranchos of more than $1 million.

About 160 homes currently are not connected to the sewer system. The cost of the permit is $2,200, and the work could cost up to $10,000, depending on the property.

An informational meeting with district staff will be held in late July to discuss financing alternatives. Mortgage and escrow companies also will be invited to attend the meeting.

Through an escrow company, Spellberg said, residents have the opportunity to have a deed of trust placed on their homes, instead of a lien.

Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Administration has grants and low-interest loans available to certain qualifying residents. Applications are available at the GRGID office, and RDA representatives also will be invited to attend the informational meeting.

For information about the financial aid, residents can contact Lina Hooks of RDA at (702) 423-7541.

Spellberg said GRGID still has not heard from the state on the status of its Douglas County Community Development Block Grant. The grant, if received, would provide $1,000 to 143 of the homes still not connected to the sewer system, because they qualify as low- to moderate-income families.

The date for the informational meeting has not been set.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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