Truckee utility supplies first emergency water
By last week, five private wells on Truckee’s Prosser Dam Road had gone dry, and two of the affected residents have not begun to re-drill for water.
Now Julie Vietor, whose well went dry on Aug. 14, is using potable water piped overland through about 2,000 feet of hose run from a fire hydrant located in the neighboring subdivision of Prosser Lakeview.
“It was really nice of them to do this,” Vietor said. “They hooked this up in less than 30 hours.”
The Truckee Donner Public Utility District, which set up the emergency water line, will continue to provide water to Vietor until she has a new well drilled. The company she is about to hire charges $54 dollars per foot and she is planning on a new well over 200-feet deep.
Vietor was able to test the level of her well in its final days of existence and said she saw a correlation between when the sprinklers went on at the nearby golf course and a 6-to-18-inch drop of the water level of her well.
The owner of a pump and well service in Reno said he believes there is a connection between the golf course watering and the recent spate of dry wells in the Prosser area.
“My guess is that there is one-hundred percent correlation between the dry wells and the [watering] of the golf courses,” Bruce MacKay said in an interview.
As many as six wells have come up dry in the area since May, and some residents blame East West Partners for using 1 million gallons of water per night to keep the greens lush at the Golf Club at Gray’s Crossing, and an additional million gallons to water the links at Old Greenwood.
Others blame Truckee Donner Public Utility District for supplying East West Partners with water from the district’s wells.
“It’s obvious that the golf course is taking my water; if my house catches fire I don’t have fire protection,” groused Prosser Road resident Robert Davis, whose well also went dry.
The Truckee utility district’s board of directors decided earlier this month to provide $15,000 in emergency funding to help deliver water to residents who need it. They received their first client in Vietor.
“I called them on Tuesday morning and they hooked me up Wednesday afternoon at no cost to me,” said Vietor.
Refusing to redrill, Davis erected signs in front of his property protesting the watering of the neighboring golf course. Davis reports running out of well water on July 18 and has refused help from the district.
“I’m gonna sit here dry,” he said. “I can’t shower, wash my own clothes ” I have to take showers at Boomtown ” they feel sorry for me,” Davis said.
Davis is positive his 168-foot deep dry well that once tapped an aquifer that lies at 100 to 200 feet below ground was sucked dry by the nearby golf course.
Residents have been assured by Truckee Donner utility’s Water Manager Ed Taylor that there is no connection between their dry wells and the district’s high-volume water user East West Partners. The Martis Valley aquifer, which the district taps to supply its customers, has enough water for 10 years without being recharged by snowfall or rain said Taylor.
The massive aquifer lies below Truckee and stretches across 36,500 acres from the east end of Donner Lake to almost the Nevada state line, according to a 2001 groundwater study by Nimbus Engineers.
Taylor said there are three layers to the aquifer ” one at 100-200 feet deep, one at 300 to 600 feet and one at 700 to 1,100 feet. District officials maintain that impermeable clay layers between the aquifers prevent water transferring from one level to another. Taylor also points to the fact that the utility draws water from the bottom two aquifers, while the wells that went dry draw from the shallower body of groundwater.
The information does not offer immediate relief for affected residents.
“My water was at 30 feet [below the surface] when I first moved in 1992,” said Ralph Phillips, who lives across the street from Vietor.
The links at Gray’s Crossing began watering at its current volume in May.
“It [the well] went down to 60 feet when Old Greenwood went in,” Phillips explained. “This year it went down to 107 feet in May.”
Phillips’ well ran dry at the end of July.
“I’m not dry anymore,” he said with a smile, pointing to a new well house in his back yard. “There’s a $12,000 hole over there.”