Ditch water could be shut off if users don’t buy bottles | TheUnion.com

Ditch water could be shut off if users don’t buy bottles

Buy some bottled water, or else we’ll have to shut off your ditch water.

Nevada Irrigation District officials plan to soon send letters with that message to about 80 customers who use raw water in their homes as their sole source of water.

It’s the latest development in an ongoing saga of NID’s response to new federal and state regulations on irrigation ditch water for household use.

The regulations stem from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, which Congress reauthorized in 1996.

At one point, the federal government wanted far-flung water districts such as NID to deliver treated water to all customers.

Saying that would be a financial impossibility, NID worked out a compromise with regulators: People who use ditch water in their homes have to agree to buy at least 5 gallons of bottled water per month from an approved distributor.

Out of 1,100 NID customers originally surveyed, about half said they used ditch water in their homes, and about 80 haven’t complied by getting bottled water.

“We still have around 80 of the approximately 1,100 that we started with that are still not in compliance,” said NID operations manager Terry Mayfield.

Now, the state Department of Health Services has given NID a June 18 deadline to make sure everyone is in compliance, he said.

NID plans to send out letters soon telling the holdouts to comply or have their ditch water shut off, probably by June 1, Mayfield said.

Norm Stout, a Cement Hill homeowner, who hasn’t complied, criticized the compromise NID worked out with regulators.

“I think you might find some judges around who would say 5 gallons (of bottled water) is not consistent with the intent of the Safe Water Drinking Act,” Stout said. “Why hasn’t NID … proceeded to (provide) people piped water?”

Mayfield and NID general manager Jim Chatigny said the bottled water is a temporary solution, probably only good for two years, and NID directors will work towards a more permanent solution as part of a strategic planning process.

NID directors voted unanimously to send out the letters.

But as part of the motion, they instructed staff to step up the district’s leadership role in lobbying for state and federal funding to help meet the costs of new water supplies for customers affected by the mandate.

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