Reno-Area Task Force Considers Plan for Dry Wells

A task force is scheduled to review a new proposal to help Reno-area homeowners whose wells are sucked dry by larger municipal wells.

Under the proposal, homeowners could receive up to $20,000 if they can show their private wells were affected by municipal wells. The money would likely come from utility water customers through higher rates or connection fees.

The proposal is designed to help owners of domestic wells that are drying up due to increased groundwater pumping for new development and is the latest being reviewed by the Groundwater Task Force.

"This was the best fix the department could come up with," said Jim Smitherman, Washoe County's water management coordinator.

The proposal is preliminary and ultimately would have to be approved by the Washoe County Commission.

John Erwin of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, one of the potentially affected water suppliers, said there are no obvious flaws with the county's plan.

"We don't have a problem with it," Erwin said.

An independent board of hydrologists would examine any request for aid, with at least two members employed by the U.S. Geological Survey, Desert Research Institute or University of Nevada, Reno. If the board concludes aid is justified, up to $20,000 could be provided by the affected water purveyor. A denial could be appealed to the state engineer.

The task force was formed in March 2002 after southwest Truckee Meadows wells began going dry, a problem residents insisted was tied to new municipal wells serving new development in the area. Solutions are sought to address the problem there and elsewhere, including Spanish Springs, Sun Valley, Pleasant Valley and Lemmon Valley.

Reno Gazette-Journal

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