Questions and answers from the Warm Springs Community Advisory Board meeting/Palomino Farms follow-up and Q&A, held on November 10, 2021.
Will our wells be metered?
Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) will not meter domestic wells as part of this project.
Will residents be charged for the infrastructure and/or water if the project moves forward?
No. Residents will not be charged for any infrastructure related to the project nor will they be charged for the water piped into the area for irrigation or recharge.
Will the existence of a potable water line require residents to switch to TMWA water if their domestic well fails?
No. If a domestic well fails, the owner would not have the option nor be required to hook up to the pipeline. The pipeline would be considered a transmission main and would not be available for normal service. Furthermore, the pipeline would be operated intermittently. TMWA would send potable water to Palomino Valley to recharge the aquifer in winter months but could also pump that stored water for use in Spanish Springs during peak summer demands or during drought scenarios. The pipeline would also have months of downtime where no water is flowing in either direction.
Does this project in any way bring our valley into TMWA’s service area?
No. As stated in the response above, the pipeline would be considered a transmission main and would not be available for normal service.
Will the community have a vote as to whether the project goes forward?
Should the results of the Feasibility Study indicate that the irrigation and/or aquifer-recharge projects are viable, the Reno and Sparks city councils as well as the Washoe County Commission and TMWA Board of Directors will discuss and decide if the project goes forward. All these bodies provide ample opportunity for public input to their decision-making process.
How can you guarantee no subdivision development will be approved in the area?
Ultimately it is up to the Washoe County Commission to make development decisions. However, Palomino Farms LLC and LW Land Company are willing to commit to not converting their agricultural lands to residential development should the recycled-water-irrigation and aquifer recharge project move forward.
How can you guarantee more water will be put into the aquifer than taken out?
TMWA will commit to accumulating more water in the Palomino Valley aquifer than we would draw out, by resting the existing agricultural wells and recharging potable water into the aquifer. For complete transparency, TMWA could create a “community dashboard” which summarizes, for example, the volume of potable water recharged, recycled water used for irrigation, water withdrawn for Spanish Springs, total amount of water in storage, water levels, etc.
Why do you need to buy water rights from Palomino Farms LLC if you plan to put more water in than you take out?
One of the benefits of this project to TMWA and the broader region would be to acquire the water rights from Palomino Farms and LW Land Company to help meet the needs of newly-developed properties in Spanish Springs, expand the region’s drought storage and off-river water supply reliability. However, the water withdrawn from the Palomino Valley aquifer would be more than offset by both recycled water irrigation (which would allow the existing agricultural wells to rest) and the recharge of potable water into the aquifer by TMWA.
Will there be an eminent domain component to any infrastructure development for the project?
What will the ratio of recycled-to-potable water be?
This will depend entirely on the availability of potable water for recharge and the demand for recycled water for irrigation use. Preliminary estimates are that 1,000 acre-feet of potable water would be recharged annually, and up to 3,000 acre-feet of recycled water would be used annually for irrigation.
Which water will be injected—potable or recycled?
Treated, potable water would be recharged into the aquifer.
Why did TMWA reject Bedell Flat (to the west) as a potential recharge area?
The primary reason for rejecting Bedell Flat was the inability of the aquifer to accept large amounts of water due to large areas of fine-grained sediments in the subsurface.
What would happen to the water table if you recharge it, and where would that recharged water go?
Recharging the aquifer over a long period of time would bring the water table near levels seen before significant pumping began (prior to 1965). The maximum water levels would be roughly the same as pre-development, but with minor adjustments because of other wells in the valley (i.e., domestic wells and other small capacity agricultural wells). In the agricultural area, the maximum groundwater levels would be approximately 125-150 feet higher than current water levels. A small amount (less than 100 acre-feet per year) of groundwater flows beneath Mullen Pass through a low permeability volcanic aquifer toward Pyramid Lake. Preliminary groundwater modeling indicates that recharging in the Palomino Valley area does not increase flow (less than 1 percent) toward Pyramid Lake.