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Water rates study on tap

by Andy Bourelle

Community Development is in the process of looking at all Douglas County’s water systems, and the latest step in the process will be made at tomorrow’s county commission meeting.

Community Development staff members have completed preliminary capital improvement project plans for the Genoa/Sierra Shadows and Ridgeview water service areas and will be asking for approval to go forward with a rate study. Staff members looked at the two systems, identifying deficiencies and making computer models of the systems.

Community Development Director Bob Nunes said the information gathered is to help with the rate study and no CIP work would begin for up to one year.

Associate Civil Engineer Craig McNeil said the CIP plans approved at this point are only preliminary and could be changed based on what is found in the rate study.

The project began in November 1996 when Community Development staff began preparing preliminary capital improvement program plans for each water and wastewater system in the county. The Mountain View/Airport sytem, the county’s system in the most immediate need of work, was first on the list, and now staff members are beginning to look at the Lake systems.

McNeil said it is a planning process, helping to provide continuity between systems and help staff members prepare for the future.

Staff members look at the systems on “operations and maintenance” and “repair and replacement” bases. If the rate study reveals the needed work is too expensive, either not all of the work will be done or other sources of money will need to be obtained.

“It’s just a planning process,” McNeil said. “First you identify needs and deficiences, and look at what you need to do to improve the system. Then you look at the costs. If the rates can’t handle it, you scale it back. It’s a planning document.”

McNeil said some needs identified by the recent studies revealed the the Ridgeview system’s four-inch lines should be replaced by eight-inch lines to increase fire flow pressure. The lines, installed in the 1960s, are ready for replacement anyway, McNeil said. More fire hydrants should be installed, too.

The Genoa/Sierra Shadows system is relatively new, McNeil said, and only a few items need to be brought up to code. But, another well might be needed in the system, in order to comply with requirements.

“This is just the first step (for the two systems),” McNeil said. “We’re just asking for tentative approval for use in the rate study.”

The county commission meeting is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at the Douglas County Administration Building, 1616 Eighth St., Minden.

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

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