Ranchos does not want to join water authority
The Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District won’t be joining the Carson Valley Water Authority any time soon, if ever.
Board trustees voted at a workshop Tuesday not to join the water authority, citing financial concerns as well as the opinion that their water rights are not threatened by a challenge to the Upper Carson River by the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.
Trustees also indicated they’re still smarting over nearly $500,000 which they say Ranchos put into the county’s 210-water fund without any noticeable benefit to the community.
“At this point, we’re not in a position to jump into this,” said GRGID Chairman Bruce Nystrom. “Give us an opportunity to keep abreast of what’s going on. This board has a history of keeping an open mind.”
Scott Brooke, counsel for the Carson Valley Water Authority, attended Tuesday’s meeting to answer trustees’ questions.
The water authority was formed in 1994 by the Town of Minden and the Gardnerville Town Water Co. to protect their extensive water rights from outside attack and discuss common areas such as regionalization of water systems. It’s been nearly a year since the CVWA stepped up efforts to increase membership and resources to respond to a challenge by the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe to reopen the Alpine decree which regulates distribution of the upper Carson.
Douglas County joined the water authority in October, but so far, no other entities have signed up.
Brooke told GRGID trustees hat the programs which the water authority was undertaking – such as mapping water rights – needed to be completed whether water rights were being challenged or not.
“The effort certainly is to avoid litigation,” Brooke said. “The effort is viewed as important and necessary. Should litigation be filed, we are in a position to defend water rights, making sure we have the data. It takes consistent study. One of our important tasks is to have the information in the event there ever is a threat that becomes real. If we don’t have the information, we could be in a difficult position because there would be no time to prepare for litigation.”
Board members said they believed the county should be the one to deal with regionalization of water systems or a challenge to water rights, “but they can’t manage their way out of a wet paper bag,” Nystrom said.
Trustee Dewey Jay said he wanted to know more about the Carson Valley Water Authority’s programs before making a formal commitment to join.
“I don’t what they are, who’s doing what or who they benefit,” Jay said. “Right now, I’m saying I don’t know, I don’t think so.”
Nystrom also objected to comments he said were made at earlier meetings that said, in essence, if GRGID didn’t join now, “then the hell with you.”
“I took umbrage at that,” Nystrom said. “We don’t see a perceived threat.”
Nystrom also questioned whether non-water authority members would pay higher rates for water rights or risk losing benefits from the county’s 210-water fund.
“There is no threat or any idea from anyone that if you choose not to join that there would be a penalty,” Brooke said. “It’s the other way around. Joining should be perceived as a benefit for you.”
He said no structure had been set up to establish dues. So far, Douglas County has contributed $80,000, Town of Minden, $20,000 and Gardnerville Town Water Co., $5,000.
With a budget of $6,000 per month for administrative costs, as well as other expenses for legal work, mapping, computer modeling and well testing, the water authority is about $28,000 short to complete tasks on its work program.