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Posted on: March 14, 2019

Division of Environmental Protection Awards Churchill County over $1.4 Million for Water Improvement

Septic cover at golf course

Submitted by Nevada Dept. of Environmental Protection

Did you know that Nevada is the driest state in the nation, with less than 11 inches of precipitation per year? As such, groundwater resources are crucial to Nevada’s natural environment, economy, and quality of life. In recognition of National Groundwater Awareness Week, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) is excited to announce that it has awarded Churchill County $1,405,075 through NDEP’s State Revolving Fund (SRF) program. These funds will be used to complete two significant groundwater improvement projects for the benefit of the area’s local communities. NDEP supports local source water protection plans, which empower Nevada communities to pursue projects that protect groundwater resources.

Septic-to-sewer consolidation for golf course: $330,075 in principal forgiveness funding

Currently, the leach field for the commercial septic system at the County-owned golf course clubhouse is failing. The clubhouse, which includes a restaurant, is used by golfers and the general public. It is also used for large community events (e.g., class graduations, weddings, etc.). The County pumps the septic tank monthly, and during large events or high usage, the County must pump the septic tank multiple times to prevent a spill, which could pose risks to public health risk and violate its operating permit, possibly leading to penalties issued by NDEP. This continuous need to pump the tank, along with the history of other system issues, has added significant maintenance costs for the County. Most importantly, this area is part of the County’s source water protection/wellhead protection area for its only municipal well. 

Existing homes in the golf course area are also on private septic tanks. Poor soils and high groundwater levels – typically 10 – 20 feet below ground surface – create numerous problems for septic systems. Most of the homes surrounding the golf course are also served by individual domestic wells. Therefore, by removing this large, commercial septic system, the County will benefit from significant water quality improvements for both the municipal well and private wells in the surrounding communities.

Septic-to-sewer consolidation on Lattin Road: $1,075,000 in principal forgiveness funding

Churchill County has ordinances to limit proliferation of high density septic tanks, including a program to connect sewer and water users in large areas. The shallow aquifer is directly influenced by recharge and has the greatest risk of pollution from facilities or activities at the land surface. Converting septic systems to sanitary sewer and educating residents on proper maintenance of existing septic systems is a part of the community’s long-term plan to protect its groundwater resources.

In 2017, a project was completed in the Pine Grove subdivision that eliminated the Dallas lift station and force main and extended a new gravity main (no additional power) to allow the consolidation of 22 homes on Dallas Drive and Lattin Road. Through NDEP’s SRF funding, the second phase of the project will extend the sewer main to connect 25 more homes. This subdivision is within the county’s municipal wellhead protection area and is located approximately 750 feet from the county's only municipal well. High groundwater levels are present in the area, and are influenced by major irrigation canals and the Carson River. The area has faced numerous septic tank issues, so having the ability to connect to a municipal system and forego aging septic systems will help protect groundwater resources for years to come. 

“We are grateful to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection’s State Revolving Fund for providing Churchill County an opportunity to do these projects,” said Marie Henson, Churchill County Building Inspector. “It is important that we protect our groundwater resources for Churchill County residents by removing old septic systems and consolidating them with the existing county sewer system. As a county water system, we are always looking for ways to protect the groundwater while providing services to our residents.”

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