Andy’s Newspaper column archive

17 Nye County Water Utilities ©

What do you know about Nye County and the seventeen  water utilities they own and manage? What you say!? The county owns seventeen utilities? You had no idea they owned 17 utilities? The answer is, it must be so because the commissioners say they do.

Since we know the county wants to buy the largest utility they have ever had an interest in owning, it would seem appropriate to examine, to enquire as to the status of the seventeen utilities currently under county control.


Here is a bit of information on one of them. It recently appeared in local news and County Commission discussions.

Manhattan, Nevada. Typically their systems were installed to meet arsenic standards as defined by State of Nevada Law. There is a need when creating a water utility to also provide chlorination to protect water so it is free of harmful bacteria. We have been informed that there is one county employee available to service these facilities. Chlorine levels are supposed to be checked daily but we are told that it is not possible for one person to do this. Is the correct conclusion that we are potentially creating an environment for problems? Are we skating on thin ice? Do we keep records on each of these utilities subject to examination by state officials? Should we be taking a more detailed look in to this. Maybe so.

Since at this writing those answers will have to wait, lets address Manhattan’s water utility. Manhattan is located in northern Nye County on State Route 377 about 50 miles north of Tonopah. The population as reported in 2005 was 124 people. Recently it was reported as 67 souls and now possibly 45. They have a water utility run by Nye county.

There are recent reports in local news and a comment from Commissioner Wichman that $1.7 million dollars have been spent on the water utility in Manhattan, in their search for a useable water supply. When the arsenic level exceeded government standards, the County has had to provide bottled water to the 67 residents to the tune of $1,670 per month. Based on their  population of 67 people and the $1,700,000 utility cost thus far, that breaks down to $25,373.00 cost per person per month. If my calculations are even close, taking in to account future inflation, this could carry on for 2,114 years before we reach $1,700,000. If this was your money, which it is,  and a decision for you to make on whether to provide bottled water or have a town wide county run water utility what would you, as a reasonable person decide?

Now I cannot understand why the county continues to plow more money into this system. They are treating all water that is used whether it is for showering, washing the car, or other non drinking uses. The bottled water solution seems a reasonable approach. If, in addition, each water user pumped their own water from a well, would there be home purification systems that could be individually maintained? It would seem if there are commercial systems to provide good water they could be scaled down for individual home use. Some of these units can be found at They typically are priced from $110 to $200. Once installed they are maintained by the user. There may be others with different capabilities.

Now if the cost for bottled water is only $26 per month, per person, why can’t the residents purchase their own bottled water? Why does the county supply it? No one forced the residents to live there. Under that scenario maybe the county should pay for my cost to put in my well so I can bottle my own water

The County is not done spending money on this system yet. ADDITIONAL COSTS ARE ON THE HORIZON.

Now the question is, if the county cannot efficiently manage a tiny water utility for 67 people, what are they thinking wanting to buy a well run utility owned by the Hafen family in Pahrump. If history is any indication, this well run utility, should continue to be owned and operated by the Hafens or it could become our very own perpetual Manhattan Project.

As a suggestion, since the Hafen family is doing such an excellent job running their utility, the commissioners may want to consider proposing they take on the operations of all 17 utilities currently under county management.

I advocate for the latter so that we improve those systems for the residents rather than downgrading the Pahrump utility owned by the Hafen’s.

Andrew Alberti