Every resident and business in Boulder City pays a wastewater charge. Boulder City wastewater is treated to Southern Nevada Health District standards for discharge into the desert and returned back to the aquifer.
Once it goes through treatment in the Boulder City wastewater treatment plant it does not sit in evaporation ponds. The water is released out into the desert. When the water is released, this gray water from sinks, showers, baths, washing machines, dishwashers, etc., is then accessible to desert wildlife.
Before this water is released into the desert, contractors have the opportunity to purchase the water for dust control. Right now, the solar contractors are buying this water from us for dust-control and solar projects.
For people who are curious, that is the black 12-inch pipe running south along U.S. Highway 95. It was installed by the solar contractors. Boulder City gets paid for this water, which is some of the most efficiently used water in Southern Nevada. The benefits here are numerous.
If the SNWA return water project went through, Boulder City would lose that income, now at $750,000, from the sale of reclaimed water. If contractors don’t have our reclaimed water for dust control, Boulder City would have to extend the newly installed $2 million 18-inch pipeline to the solar area and let them use Boulder City’s drinking water for dust control.
This should worry us. The estimated cost was $12 million to extend that waterline. If the residents of Boulder City are required to supply drinking water for dust control for solar projects, we lose that drinking water for our personal consumption.
Boulder City will get no credits for returning the reclaimed water. If the residents of Boulder City decide to send the water back to Lake Mead, a pumping plant will have to be built. A conservative rough estimate could cost $26 million for the pumping plant and a 6-mile pipeline to Henderson
In the July 30 commentary “Facts Over Fear” (by Councilwoman Claudia Bridges) in the Boulder City Review, the small basin mentioned would have to be able to hold approximately 2 million gallons of wastewater. That translates into a small pond, 20 feet deep, and over a quarter of an acre in surface area.
Are we going to cover that to prevent migratory birds from landing on it? If it’s a pumping plant, which it will be, who pays for the electricity, and who will operate it?
Also, we would have then maximized Henderson’s wastewater facility, so the question is, who then pays for Henderson’s increased expansion project?
SNWA does not do anything for free. When SNWA drilled the third intake, we wound up writing checks for cost overruns as part of the agency’s membership. Additionally, it is obvious that Boulder City residents will be asked to finance another bond for this project, with zero benefits to Boulder City.
Let’s not be the cash cow for SNWA. Logic indicates that this would not be good for us but great for our over-the-hill neighbors.
Greg T. Todd is a member of the Boulder City Utility Advisory Committee. He retired from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power after 26 years, where he worked on high-voltage substations, water and reclaimed-water pumping plants and hydro stations.