Trout Canyon residents still without water following fire
Trout Canyon residents have been without water since the Carpenter 1 fire damaged their waterline. (FOX5)
PAHRUMP, NV (FOX5) -
It's summertime, you don't have drinking water and can't even flush the toilet. That's exactly what families in Trout Canyon near Pahrump are dealing with. They've largely been without water since the Carpenter 1 fire broke out.
The fire destroyed the small community's only means of obtaining water, a three-mile waterline. Estimates indicate it could cost millions of dollars to fix.
Residents gathered for a community meeting on the topic Friday. What they were told is there is no quick, easy solution.
Currently, Nye County's Emergency Management Response Team is providing residents with four toilets and portable water from a tank truck. Homeowners have been able to shower.
"We are still in crisis mode, and it's Day 23 without water. You can't live in the desert without water," said Trout Canyon resident Dennis Walker.
Walker and other residents have largely been living without water for three weeks now.
Dan Tarnowski with the Nevada Rural Water Association inspected the damaged waterline. He said more than 80 parts of the line are in need of repair.
"I would call it a disaster. It's a disaster situation," he said. "There is a great deal of that [line] just totally destroyed. Destroyed not only from fire, but the fire loosened boulders that came down the hills to the water main."
Tarnowski estimates fully repairing the line could cost up to $6 million. The issue is, who is going to pay for it?
Resident Rick Martin's family bought the land the waterline sits on and built the line in the 1960s. He said families have been recycling free water from it for years.
"We've paid the water bills and we've done the upkeep. We have done the testing," he said.
Now that the line is damaged, Martin said he'll have to start charging and regulating how much water homeowners can use.
"Everything comes to an end sometime, and perhaps it's time for this to come to an end. In essence, it's time to grow up," Martin said.
"We are hurting. You have senior citizens walking around with a five-gallon bucket from six in the morning until nine at night, trying to water fruit trees because they don't have a hose to do it," said Walker.
The community is considering forming a nonprofit which would allow them to tap into federal grants or low-interest loans in order to repair or replace the line.
In the meantime, the Emergency Response Team will provide portable water for two or three more weeks.
Water officials with the U.S. Forest Service, FEMA, USDA and the Nevada Rural Water Association attended Friday's meeting and pledged assistance to residents.
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