TMWA Debates Selling Water at Wholesale to Private Utility

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Verdi Development Meridian 120 North
Meridian 120 development in Verdi. Image: Colliers International

Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) is struggling to get on board with selling water at wholesale prices to a private water company doing business in the Verdi area.

The TMWA board on Wednesday considered the request from West Reno Water Company Inc. but tabled it to allow ample time for customers in the Verdi area to provide feedback.

Reno City Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus said she’s seen inconsistent water information related to the Meridian 120 development and was concerned West Reno Water would be unaccountable to the public. Meridian 120 is a 783-acre mixed-use project near Verdi off Interstate 80.

“Private water companies don’t have a great track record,” Brekhus said.

Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung agreed.

“They want to buy water from us at a wholesale rate and I have a difficult time with this,” Hartung said. “If something goes awry, TMWA has to back them up.”

Nobody from West Reno Water addressed the board at the meeting.

West Reno Water plans to provide retail water service to certain areas within its service territory in the Boomtown and Verdi areas. It will own, maintain, and operate its distribution system for retail water service, including wells, transmission, and distribution mains and storage tanks. West Reno has separate groundwater supplies that it intends to use to serve all or a portion of the proposed development within its territory, but desires to receive wholesale water service from TMWA to serve a portion of its total water demand to allow for conjunctive management of its groundwater resources with surface water.

TMWA Workers Install a Water Main Pipeline
TMWA Workers Install a Water Main Pipeline. Photo: TMWA

TMWA doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to immediately serve the Verdi area but it has developed a Verdi Area Plan to meet the projected buildout demands. Portions of the facilities have been, or are currently being constructed, including a new water main extension to convey water to the West Meadows development, according to TMWA. The water system currently being extended into the Verdi area will be a temporary extension of the Mogul/Verdi Business Park tank zone, which has 150 gallons per minute of excess supply capacity.

Upon completion of the Mogul Booster Pump Station upgrade, the West Meadows subdivision oversizing and the Somersett Road to Riverbelle Mobile Home Park improvements expected in Spring 2018, TMWA will have 150 gallons per minute of system capacity available to the Verdi area on a first-come, first-served basis.

West Reno has initially requested 50 gallons per minute of supply capacity, which would be provided as a year-round, base load supply. The necessary Truckee River water rights required to support this demand is approximately 80 acre feet per year. These water resources could be purchased through TMWA or acquired on the open market.

If approved, a wholesale service would be billed to West Reno Water under a rate schedule, which would generate about $3,400 per month. Required facility fees for the proposed wholesale service amount to $602,500, according to TMWA.

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Carla O'Day
About Carla O'Day 270 Articles

Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.