By Carla O’Day
The Truckee Meadows Water Authority board voted Wednesday to move forward with an agreement to allow an industrial facility in Storey County to use effluent from a reclamation plant, which utility officials say will keep undesirable water out of the river.
Effluent is liquid wastewater that flows from a treatment plant. Tahoe Reno Industrial General Improvement District plans to use treated liquid waste from the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility for industrial purposes.
The Reno City Council also agreed last week to negotiations with the industrial center. Also involved is Sparks, the state, and other entities.
The industrial center using effluent is advantageous because it’ll keep the stuff out of the Truckee River, said John Enloe, TMWA director of natural resources.
TMWA board member and Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung said the county remained neutral on the matter.
“What’s it worth in 20 years? I’d caution the negotiating team to look at value of the commodity over time,” Hartung said. “Perhaps there are benefits along the way. Maybe things can be renegotiated over time.”
TMWA board member and Reno City Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus said Washoe County has invested in its urban infrastructure, unlike Storey County. She said once attorneys start negotiations, the rest of the public is locked out of the process.
“When tax packages for abatements were put together out there, nothing was done for Reno and supporting communities,” Brekhus said. “What’s next? Apple is about to make a big play on the other side of the canyon.”
TMWA board member and Sparks City Councilman Ron Smith tried to calm the board.
“Put faith in the negotiators,” Smith said. “They’re going to bring it forward to us for approval anyway.”
Enloe said TMWA rate payers wouldn’t be affected and the utility would ask for reimbursement if it accrues cost.
The general improvement district is responsible for planning, permitting, engineering, and construction of all improvements in Storey and Washoe counties, including right-of-way acquisition and system improvements. Each municipality will grant an easement for the pipeline on its property at no charge, according to proposed plans.
Cost estimates for the project include $31 million in Tahoe Reno Industrial Center upgrades, $20 million for the pipeline, and $5 million for right-of-way.