The legislature’s Tahoe-Marlette Lake oversight committee on Tuesday approved a series of letters and bill draft requests to support projects in the basin, including efforts to get funding to improve and repair the Marlette Lake water system and Hobart Reservoir Dam.
The water system dates to 1877 and was built to provide water to Virginia City as well as some water to Carson City. It’s the only source of water for Virginia City.
System Manager Jerry Walker told the committee in December because of damage from the heavy winter of 2016-17, he and his crew have spent most of their time making repairs just to keep the water flowing. He told members major repairs are needed to fix the system.
Those repairs could cost some $25 million and Walker is seeking federal grant funding to cover as much of the cost as possible.
Carson City Assemblyman Al Kramer said a recent tour convinced him the system badly needs funding to continue providing water.
The committee headed by Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle, D-Sparks, voted to back those efforts. Members were told the damage to the system will just continue to get worse if they don’t move soon to make repairs including improvements to both the Marlette and Hobart dams, extensive replacement of pipes that siphon the water out of the lake, bring it down the mountain and eventually up to Virginia City.
In recent years, the system has gotten numerous improvements including a pump to start the siphon by pumping the water to the crest of the hill. But Walker told committee members much more work is needed.
In addition, the committee voted to request legislation releasing the next phase of bonds for Nevada’s portion of the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program. The bill will provide $8 million in bonds for the 2019-2021 biennium.
The committee also backed drafting a letter to the Nevada congressional delegation supporting a federal budget appropriation for the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act.
Another planned piece of legislation would allow nonprofit groups to receive grant funding from Tahoe license plate sales for environmental restoration programs in the basin.
All the votes were unanimous.