Nov 12, 2007

Missing the Mark

Jackpot, Nev., known for its casinos, is a city struggling with a water system that is not up to standard.

Even if the unincorporated town was not growing, its water infrastructure would still need several million dollars of upgrades.

According to a preliminary engineering report presented to the Jackpot Advisory Board in June by the Reno, Nev., firm Eco:Logic, Jackpot has several problems with its water system.

"There are a number of things of differing priority that Jackpot needs to do,” Ray Kruth, senior engineer for Eco:Logic told the Times News. “One item is one of their wells has a slightly elevated level of uranium than is federally allowed. "The standard, as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is 30 parts per billion (ppb). One well is closer to 40 ppb."

According to EPA regulations, uranium is a low-level radioactive element that can cause certain types of cancer.

"The uranium is in well No. 2.,” Kruth said. “By mixing it with well No. 3, Jackpot can meet drinking water standards."

Other issues include the need for more water storage and pressure, and possibly the installation of a chlorination system.

"Jackpot uses non-chlorinated water, which can be a good thing and a bad thing," Kruth said. "On the one hand, they aren't treating it, and some people like that. But on the other hand, if contamination does get in the water, then there isn't the chlorination present to treat it. One day EPA may make it mandatory for all water systems to have a disinfection system in place."

Elko County Public Works Director Lynn Forsberg said that improvements to the water system are projected to cost about $3.5 million. "The first thing needed is a new well," Forsberg said. "The town needs more capacity."

At this point, officials do not have a timeline on when improvements will get under way, nor do they know how project financing will affect user rates.

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