Tougher penalties for prostitution crimes introduced in AB145, AB157

Las Vegas residents defend septic tanks as costly switch to sewer system proposed

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Homeowners with septic systems accused Nevada lawmakers Monday night of a “heavy-handed” move to target them with a costly requirement to get hooked up to municipal sewer systems.

In testimony opposing Assembly Bill 220 (AB220), residents said they appreciated efforts for the government to pay up to half the cost, but many still couldn’t afford it. And they think it’s unfair as they see growth all around them with new housing developments and apartments popping up everywhere.

“Maybe we should stop building new homes here,” resident Ed Borelli said. “You go around the outskirt of town, everywhere there’s a new housing development. But yet we’re fighting for water but we allow these new homes to be built, and then we put restrictions upon the people who already live here and have homes. It’s not right and it’s not fair. It should be rethought.”

Resident Michele Tombari said it shouldn’t be up to homeowners to bear the cost, suggesting the government pay 100% of the cost. Another resident called for lawmakers to “grandfather in” the existing homes with septic tanks.

Borelli and Tombari both said the cost could be $37,000 or higher. Even if the government pays half, many people couldn’t afford it.

Andy Belanger of the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

AB220 would affect about 15,000 property owners in Clark County, according to Andy Belanger of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The bill requires the switch from a septic tank if the municipal sewer line is within 400 feet of the homeowner’s septic tank line. The bill also requires people with wells to get on municipal water lines if they are within 1,250 feet of a supply line.

The reason behind the requirement: Water in municipal sewer systems is recycled through treatment plants and sent downstream to Lake Mead, where it can be reused. Water in septic tanks is lost because it’s outside the system.

Residents are angry, even though they have years to get it done. The requirement’s deadline isn’t until 2054. They testified on Monday by calling in or showing up in person at the Grant Sawyer Building near downtown Las Vegas. The hearing was in Carson City.

In addition to complaints about unrestrained growth, many residents said they’re already doing a good job of conserving water, and connecting them to the system isn’t needed.

“I’ve been on a septic tank pretty much my whole life,” resident Cathleen Meehan said.

“As a child, we had a sign in the bathroom — mom wrote it up — ‘If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.’ ” Meehan said the state should think about older people on a fixed income before approving the bill.

People with septic tanks understand the need to conserve water, many argued, pointing a finger at growth and the failure of politicians to reign it in.

Resident David Grant said, “It does feel like we’re being held hostage to a certain degree being forced to convert with the help of the feds.”

More objections raised points including fluoridated water, the inefficiency of water treatment plants and even immigration. “If water conservation is such a concern, why aren’t we halting immigration, because more population means more people,” one caller said.

“I think it’s a heavy-handed position,” Borelli said. “Is it going to really going save us that much water in the long run or are you just trying to get a cookie in your jar?”

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