Effluent Pipeline to Tesla, Switch Gets Tentative Approval From City

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Former Southern Nevada "water czar" Pat Mulroy testified yesterday at City Hall in favor of project that will deliver treated effluent from the Reno area to Story County. At right is Swtich's Adam Kramer.
Former Southern Nevada “water czar” Pat Mulroy testified yesterday at City Hall in favor of project that will deliver treated effluent from the Reno area to Storey County. At right is Swtich’s Adam Kramer.

UPDATE (9/13/17): The Reno City Council voted today to proceed with the agreement.

The Reno City Council yesterday contemplated changes to a proposed agreement that will pipe 4,000-acre-feet of treated effluent from the Truckee Wastewater Treatment Facility to Storey County’s Tahoe-Reno Industrial General Improvement District (TRIGID).

The water is needed for Switch, Tesla and other businesses at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC).

Switch brought heavy-hitter “water czar” Pat Mulroy, formerly of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, to testify for the agreement, which mostly met with favor among council members.

Mulroy was a key figure in Clark County’s controversial efforts to pipe groundwater from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas, efforts that have been ongoing for decades and which are still making their way through court. Mulroy retired in 2013.

She said she was retained by Switch as a consultant on the TRIGID project.

Under the agreement, treated water would go to help meet water needs at the TRIC. This means more clean water staying in the Truckee River and less treated effluent going downstream, according to City Public Works Director John Flansberg, who framed the effort as mutually beneficial.

TRIGID would be responsible for construction costs, and approval of the agreement by Sept. 15, 2017 would allow the improvement district to seek state funding.

Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus
Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus

That tight deadline had some council members concerned. Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus said: “It puts my hackles up to (meet) this deadline.”

But Councilwoman Naomi Duerr called the project a win-win for the Reno area.

“This agreement will solve a lot of issues for our community,” she said.

Switch pushed for the agreement.

“(This is) one of the most innovative water agreements in the West,” Switch representative Adam Kramer said. “I know our friends at Tesla feel the same way.”

Councilman Paul McKenzie said he would only vote for the pipeline if it was specifically noted that it was a public works project so that prevailing wages would be paid for its construction.

A new draft of the agreement, which takes into account the council and mayor’s concerns, is expected to be considered the City Council’s Sept. 13, meeting, just ahead of the Sept. 15, 2017 deadline.

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About Bob Conrad 835 Articles

Bob Conrad is proprietor and co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company (disclosure: client work includes projects funded by grants through UNR) and is an adjunct faculty member at Truckee Meadows Community College. He is a contributor to Reno Public Radio.