Interim Finance Committee to consider financing proposal for wastewater pipeline at Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center

Daniel Rothberg
Daniel Rothberg
Signage at the entrance to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center

With the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) expected to need more water in the future, the Interim Finance Committee on Wednesday will consider financing to send recycled wastewater from a Washoe County treatment facility to the sprawling corporate park about 13 miles away.

For more than a year, companies at TRIC such as Tesla and Switch have been exploring the idea of using treated wastewater from Reno and Sparks to supplement their water supplies. Doing so would require a pipeline from the municipal sewage facility to the industrial center. Under a funding proposal, up for consideration at tomorrow’s meeting, the state would issue $35 million in bonds to help complete the pipeline, an amount that would have to be paid back by companies at the park.

The financing is expected to come through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), which gained bonding authority during a special 2015 legislative session to lure Faraday Future, an elusive electric car startup, to Southern Nevada. Paul Anderson, GOED’s executive director, said that there are several layers of protection to shield the state from paying for the bonds.

Companies including Tesla, Switch, Google and Blockchains LLC, will pay off the bond under a Special Assessment District on their land, a designation that has force similar to property taxes.

Under the proposed pipeline deal, the municipalities will send some of their wastewater to the industrial center. In return, they will get TRIC’s rights to use clean water from the Truckee River.

The pipeline has been cast as a win-win for the municipalities and the companies. Growth in the cities is expected to strain municipal resources, including its sewage facility. Upgrades to the facility were expected to cost millions and dumping too much wastewater in the Truckee River can create issues for the river’s chemistry. At the same time, companies in TRIC are expecting to need more water supplies as they expand — industrial use often requires a lot of water.

“It’s really an innovative and progressive way to do water management,” Anderson said.

The bond will only cover the initial part of the project. The companies and landowners at TRIC are expected to pay an additional $80 to $100 million on on-site infrastructure to move and store treated wastewater once it has arrived through the 13-mile pipeline that the state wants to help finance.

Disclosure: Switch has donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.


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