Yerington's city manager denies that raw sewage was released into Cinnamon Pond on any occasion.
"At no time did the City of Yerington allow raw sewage to be discharged into Cinnamon Pond," City Manager Dan Newell said in a statement issued Thursday. "The violation the city received from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection on July 3, 2003, was for sanitary waste debris (four or five small pieces of plastic from sanitary napkins and two or three condoms)."
Newell complained that newspaper articles relating the closure of the portions of the Mason Valley Wildlife Management Area were inaccurate.
"The effluent has never been shown to be a health risk," Newell said. "The test results are available at public works and can be reviewed by anyone interested."The Nevada Department of Wildlife closed Cinnamon Pond at the wildlife management area on Nov. 7 due to potential health risks.
Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy said the state held water in Cinnamon Pond, keeping it away from the rest of the sanctuary, after the city failed two inspections in July.
"It isn't their property it was being dumped on," Healy said. "It is a big deal when stuff like that comes down the line and isn't being treated. We've tried to work with them and get this thing solved, first in July where we had the first problems. But once is more than enough when you're on the receiving end of that thing, especially in a public area where people are out recreating. We would be remiss in our duties if we were not drawing attention to the problem and trying to get it solved."
Newell said that on Oct. 9, the city tested water from the sewage treatment plant and that it met state standards.
He said levels for suspended solids were a quarter of the state limit, and coliform was three-quarters of the 400 per 100 milliliters limit under their permit.
"The water that transported that sanitary debris to Cinnamon Pond was treated effluent and was exactly the same quality of water that has always been discharged to the pond," he said.
Healy said state workers at the wildlife management area noticed debris in Cinnamon Pond in July and again in October.
A follow-up inspection on Oct. 15 by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection found decomposed toilet paper, sanitary items and floating debris had been discharged into the pond.
Healy said the department debated what to do about the inspection failure.
"We were trying to determine whether we should close the whole area, but we thought that would be an overreaction because we haven't been letting water out of the pond area since July," he said. In the end the department just closed the one pond.
Newel said the city is taking the permit violations seriously.
"While these two violations are a breach of the City of Yerington's permit and are matters the city does not take lightly, they do not warrant being classified as a health risk and the statement that raw sewage and untreated wastewater was discharged to Cinnamon Pond is just plain not true."
Healy said typically water from Cinnamon Pond is mixed with cleaner water from the rest of the management area. However, since the violations in July, the water has been kept separate from the rest of the area.