RENO, Nev. -- A nationally recognized water company is negotiating to buy the Fish Springs Ranch north of Reno and the 14,000 acre-feet of water that goes with it. U.S. Filter Corp. wants to buy the ranch from Northwest Nevada Water Resources Limited Partnership and the Truckee Meadows Project, former promoters of the Honey Lake water importation project that ran into a dead end four years ago.
Washoe County officials said the deal could benefit Reno, Sparks, and especially the county's north valleys, which are in desperate need of new water sources.
To keep Washoe County in the running for the water, the company wanted county commissioners to extend the county's option on the transferable groundwater rights -- which expired on Dec. 31 -- into this year.
That extension would keep intact the state engineer's approval of the interbasin water transfer.
The ranch is 38 miles north of Reno near the Nevada-California line. Martin Jessen, U.S. Filter senior vice president for government affairs, told the Reno Gazette-Journal there is no firm timetable for the project.
A decision to build a pipeline will be based on the total cost of buying river water rights, he said, adding that the company has already done modeling on the types of commitments needed before construction can start.
``We'll bring some new thinking, new dimensions,'' Jessen said. ``We understand the water treatment business very well. We operate some 400 water and wastewater systems. We do our own engineering, we build our own pipelines. ``We sell to every Fortune 500 company,'' he said. ``We are a Fortune 500 company. The community should benefit a lot from the standpoint of having a major player in the water business.''
Washoe County has spent $5.5 million over the last 12 years on the water rights options and planning work. County manager Katy Simon said a deal with U.S. Filter could bolster the county's economic diversification efforts. ``In having a player like U.S. Filter, it builds confidence in the region for other investors,'' she said. ``And that could be industrial investors. ``It's a good investment in the future,'' she said. ``It provides for a stable source of water rights and allows for orderly development to occur.''
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