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Energy and Environment

Pipeline To Save Groundwater In Mt. Rose Suburbs


Residents of the Mt. Rose and Galena suburbs rely mostly on domestic wells for their water. But continued development and the drought have strapped those underground aquifers. Now, the Truckee Meadows Water Authority has a new strategy to supply these households. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey spoke with TMWA's John Enloe for more details.*

Enloe says the problem is that because of the drought, underground aquifers have dropped significantly over the last decade. As most households in the Mt. Rose area rely on wells for their water, Enloe says, it's akin to having too many straws pulling from the same drink. 

"I actually live in that area, too, and my water level has gone down 40 feet over the last 20 years," he says. "Some people have seen more than that and some have seen less."

TMWA is now planning on spending $2.8 million on new pipelines to pump treated surface water up to these areas with the goal of alleviating their municipal wells. This strategy should maximize the use of surface water when it's available — especially in the winter — and reduce groundwater pumping.

"With that additional water, we'll be able to turn off many of our municipal wells and allow the groundwater table to recover," he says. 

One pipeline and pump station project is already out to bid and should be operational by November. 

He says new development in that area will also be subject to more scrutiny, namely developers will have to offset any additional groundwater use with surface water.

"Our goal in all of this is to use some of the creek water for the surface water treatment plan, and treat that water to offset any additional groundwater pumping that might occur in the future as the result of new development."

*Correction: In the audio portion, Enloe says there are 4,000 domestic wells in the affected area. That number should be 400.