It has been more than 30 years since Douglas County took over the Cave Rock Water System.
One of three private systems serving Douglas residents at Lake Tahoe, Cave Rock was purchased by the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District to protect its water rights.
On Thursday, Douglas County commissioners approved selling $16.5 million in bonds financed by a loan from the state to complete $18 million in improvements to the Cave Rock system.
The water system serves 332 Cave Rock and 251 Skyland residential customers. Residents pay an average of $136.29 a month, with $20 a month going to capital improvements.
The $20 surcharge is the source for $1 million of the cost of the project. A $500,000 U.S. Forest Service grant makes up the difference.
The project includes the replacement of 2.84 miles of water line, booster pump stations and installation of a redundant water treatment unit in the water treatment plant.
Cave Rock customers’ water comes from Lake Tahoe, and during severe drought years those intakes have come very close to rising above the surface. Work to extend those intakes will be included in the improvements, Ron Roman told commissioners at their Dec. 3 meeting.
Settlement of a federal lawsuit filed by Cave Rock customers two years ago resulted in the county consolidating all of its water systems.
Residents accused the county of charging them for work on the neighboring Uppaway system, without charging other county water users.
The county’s nine water systems are scattered across its jurisdiction. There is no plan to connect the three water systems at the Lake with those in Carson Valley.
However, work has been underway along Jacks Valley Road to complete a pipeline between the east and west Valley portions of the water system.
Most county residents receive their drinking water from a purveyor independent of the county, like one of the general improvement districts, the Gardnerville Water Co. or the Town of Minden. Even those East Valley residents being served by the county actually receive water from Minden, which wholesales it to the county.