No pain-free solution to Banner Mountain pipeline issue |

No pain-free solution to Banner Mountain pipeline issue

The dispute over a proposal by Nevada Irrigation District to build a new pipeline around the side of Banner Mountain demonstrates that every decision in public life has a cost.

Banner Mountain residents say the proposed pipeline would disrupt their bucolic neighborhood. There’s no doubt about that. Nobody wants a major construction project in his backyard, particularly if the project involves the removal of the trees we treasure so much.

But the alternatives have a price, too. The difference is who pays.

The pipeline might be routed down Idaho Maryland Road rather than across private properties. It’s unlikely that the county government would allow the road to be shut down while a big pipeline is installed, and construction crews probably would be required to work 20 or 30 minutes, stop to let traffic pass, then resume work. And then they’d need to repave the road. Who will pay for the expense of the construction? Everyone who lives in NID’s taxing district.

Or maybe the pipeline could be routed away from private properties if pumping stations were installed. Pumping stations rely on electric power, and Nevada County residents know that electric service can be interrupted, sometime for days. Electricity costs money. Who would pay? Everyone who receives water from the NID system. The generation of electricity degrades the environment in ways that a gravity-powered water system does not. Who will pay the costs of a degradation in the world’s environment, no matter how slight?

How about simply forgetting the whole idea? That, too, has a cost. Growth throughout NID’s service area – most of Nevada County south of Banner Mountain – means the water district has reached the limit of its ability to serve new customers. To stop the pipeline means folks who bought property in hopes of building a home served by NID water – folks who are an awful lot like the rest of us – will be left high and dry. What is our financial and moral obligation to the future?

Let none of us think we have a pain-free, cost-free answer to this problem. The world, unfortunately, doesn’t work that way.

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