What is the Association doing to help our rates?
The Association recently put in a Bill Draft Request with the help or Senator Goicoechea and Assemblyman Ellison to help address the issues of water rates in Spring Creek, transparency from the water company to customers, and monitoring the water company. This Bill Draft will be presented during the 2017 session. We feel as an Association this is one of the largest issues we face and as one movement, we can help make change. From here, Senator Goicoechea requested the PUCN send out their engineers to fully review our water system and have a strong understanding of what "shape" it is in. We look forward to having a public meeting in 2017 with the water company (now Great Basin Water Company), Senator Goicoechea, Assemblyman Ellison, Our County Commission, and the PUCN to help understand the issues we are facing and how we can get out of this "death spiral" or high rates.
Who increases the water rates?
There is a common misconception that the Spring Creek Association increases water rates which is not the case. Spring Creek Utilities, a private company whose parent company is Utilities Inc., owns and operates the water system. Your Association has a Water Committee that develops responses to requests for increases made before the Nevada Public Utilities Commission by Spring Creek Utilities. Although our Association has fought in the past to help scale down the rate increases, ultimately the decision is made by Nevada Public Utilities Commission who governs water utilities. Our Spring Creek Association does not request or set rates. Instead, our Spring Creek Association has appeared at PUC meetings to contest rate increases in the past with some success.
Want to know when there is a request for a rate increase? Sign up by Clicking Here to receive email contact from the PUC.
Are the water rates going up again?
Our water infrastructure, like so many in our Country, is old and needs repair. Costs will go up, how much is the question. Spring Utilities Inc. has requested increases and recently passed legislation has made it easier for them to start new projects and pass along the costs. Your Association is also studying what its role might be. This may include forming our own water district or perhaps incorporating into a community. These are big moves with a lot of consequences. The Water Committee and Incorporation Committee are working together to see what might be in the best interests of the Spring Creek area.
Will our water rates go down as the SCA and property owners reduce water use?
A loss in income due to customers cutting back either due to water costs or conservation efforts will likely trigger an application to the PUCN for a rate hike. By state law, the water utility is allowed to make up to a predefined profit margin. Nevada State Senate Bill SB 436 passed back in 2013 also allows the water utilities to recover revenues lost due to lower water consumption. Since conservation of water reduces the Water Utility’s revenues, they are able to apply to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission for higher rates to offset the loss of income for the Utility due to the conserved water. So what can you do? Talk to your local legislators, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission about your concerns. Contact information is below.
Can we drill our own wells and use our own water ?
This is a complex question. Can we apply for a water use permit? Yes. For example, we are often asked if SCA could apply for a water use permit to drill and put into service an irrigation well at the Golf Course. We could apply, but the State Water Engineer has to approve the application. There are several issues with this. The water rights for Spring Creek Association lands are already held by Spring Creek Utilities. The septic tank density on much of the Spring Creek Association lands is too high to allow water wells on individual lots. Water shortages in our basin (a restricted basin) would cause the initial answer to assumed to be no. All water applications are subject to protest by the other water users in the basin and especially by water users that have nearby wells. The Utility would automatically protest the application on the basis of two key arguments: They have a well that would be affected, and They already provide water to the users. The permit would then probably be denied. If you have questions about drilling a well, contact the Elko Department of Water Resources at 775-753-3553.
What about private home owners – can they drill their own wells?
In our area, generally, no but anyone can apply. If you live in an area served by a water utility, the State Water Engineer will rule for you to use their supply system. The number of septic systems in our community could also prevent individual wells. If you have questions about drilling a well, contact the Elko Department of Water Resources at 775-753-3553.
Can we purchase the Water Utility?
This is possible but has its challenges. First, we would have to purchase at their price and not ours. It is incorrect to think we would have to pay what Utilities Inc. might ask, but a complete financial analysis is necessary before additional steps are taken. Secondly, in California, eminent domain has been used in several cases, and in such case, the matter ended up in court, generally with the communities winning reductions in the amount the purchase would cost. In that case, what is being purchased is not only the physical infrastructure but also lost revenue stream as well as water rights.
If we are to remain water utility customers and not water utility owners, will we be able to work with the Public Utility Commission and the Utility to limit future expenditures?
Yes, if we work with both the utility and the Public Utility Commission we will have the most success. The more SCA members that participate in the rate increase hearings – in a positive and orderly manner, the better. If the PUC does not hear from the water consumers the assumption made by the PUC commissioners is that there are no objections to what the utility is proposing. Contact information is below for your local legislators and the Nevada Public Utilities Commission.
Do we get to make the decision on HOW the upgrades will be made – for example, pressure regulators instead of tanks?
No, we don’t get to make the decision but we can work with the Utility and the Public Utilities Commission AHEAD OF TIME to encourage a less expensive and alternate approach that is based on sound engineering practice. If we only argue after the decision is made, we may not be listened to.
Questions, Concerns or Comments:
Below is a list of contacts to address any questions or concerns.
Utilities Inc.: E-mail email@example.com or call 775-753-4437
Public Utilities Commission: firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to1150 E. William St. Carson City, NV 89701-3109 or Call 775-684-6100
Bureau of Consumer Affairs: http://ag.nv.gov/Complaints/File_Complaint
Assemblyman John Ellison: Email John.Ellison@asm.state.nv.us or Mail to P.O. Box 683 Elko, NV 89803-0683 or Call 775-738-6284
Senator Pete Goicoechea: Email Goicoechea @sen.state.nv.us or Mail to P.O. Box 97 Eureka, NV 89316-0097 or Call 775-237-5300
Spring Creek Association: email@example.com or call 775-753-6295
The Incorporation Committee of the Spring Creek Association recognizes that the Spring Creek community has reached a crossroads. Spring Creek’s population has grown so that it now rivals neighboring Elko, and the population that first settled the area has changed demographically so that what it needs and values now has evolved from the rural and outdoors focused group that initially became residents. Additionally, issues such as adequate police, fire, water and other services have increasingly been seen as lacking. Finally, the amenities that brought the initial residents to Spring Creek have fallen into varying states of disrepair and are of decreased importance to a growing segment of the area’s residents. Read the study results here.
How to address this expanding number of concerns means looking at the future goals and needs of this community and how best to achieve meaningful results. The Incorporation Committee sees its purpose as both educational as well as ultimately suggesting a course of action that will settle the following questions:
What is the vision for what Spring Creek will be in five, ten and twenty years?
What are the needs of the Spring Creek residents, both owners and renters, and businesses now and in the future?
What would make Spring Creek a place businesses, owners, and renters would want to call home?
What would be the best governmental structure to accomplish these needs?
What are the financial implications of each of the governmental alternatives that might be utilized?
The community meeting for the final reports for the municipalities’ assessment was held in June. The board will need to decide next steps in regards to becoming another entity at this board meeting. There are several points I have been thinking since the results came out including having a review of our assessment fees and having a 10 year plan to get us to a sustainable level for income to keep the operations running at a decent level of service. Also, I have been researching contract cities (a few outside of Denver and in Washington State) who have a limited number of employees and run their towns on contracts to reduce costs. A major reason we are not able to get taxes is because of the change in legislation which grandfathered in towns like Jackpot so I am also curious if there is a way to change legislation although that may be a long shot. Additional questions and answers are posted from the meeting on our website.
The SCA desires to engage HEC to perform additional research and analysis of:
1. The operation of the SCA through minimal staff with all services and equipment being
provided through contracts;
2. The charging of SCA annual assessments based on home valuation;
3. The exploration of possible legislative changes that would allow greater consolidated
tax receipts for a new entity, with case studies of Fernley and West Wendover (and
4. Annexation of Spring Creek into the City of Elko;
5. Other economically feasible options, such as disposal of SCA recreation facilities or
operation of SCA recreation facilities on a concessionaire basis.
9.19.17: “Within 60 days GBWC shall reprice each Spring Creek Customer’s water consumption for the months of January through October, 2016, at the lowest Tier 1 rate of $3.47 per 1,000 gallons.” (only residential).
There are also various compliances in the Order. “GWBC shall report to the Commission by November 15, 2017, and annually on November 15, through year 2020, regarding the steps it is considering and taking to improve its relationships with its Spring Creek customers…”
11.8.17: The PUCN formally denied GBWC appeal. GBWC can take them to court which we assume will be the next step. On page 24 of that order there are several paragraphs that have deadlines. The first is paragraph 3 that gives them 60 days from the issuance of the order to reprice the customers’ bills. Paragraph 7 gives them 90 days to submit an outline showing their compliance with the order in paragraph 3. Paragraph 8 gives them 150 days to show they have complied with the order. Paragraph 12 gives them 90 days to submit the final cost of participating in the docket and paragraph 10 gives them till November 15th to submit the steps they are taking to improve customer relations.
They can only ask for reconsideration once. Commission has 40 days to rule, if the Commission does nothing, it is deemed denied. Then GBWC could sue the Commission in district court.
In regard to attorney fees, the commission ordered that it still maintains the authority to rule on that in a general rate case.
For comments, I asked BPS and they said only parties to the docket can file an answer to the petition for reconsideration. If you are not a party, you can try to file comments and it will get sent to General Counsel to determine if the comments can go into the docket (late-filed) or not since the commenting period has already passed and there are no proceedings scheduled.
We still are hearing from property owners that the issue continues with high bills. The PUCN is still encouraging residents to put in complaints if they find an issue. Senator Goicochea is working with the PUCN to get their engineers out here for a system review.
The Spring Creek Association is in a unique position for road maintenance, as we are not a City or Town but a Homeowners Association who takes care of almost 150 miles of roads (compared to the about 100 miles the City of Elko takes care of). Almost half of your Association assessments goes directly to repairing roads, sealing roads, and snow removal. Unlike many city and towns, the Association receives no federal funding or grants to help maintain our roads which hinders our ability to make significant headway. Road evaluations on all Spring Creek roads happen in February typically once the snow melts. This will help the Association prioritize which roads needs the most attention, how much material, and a general schedule for our community. Pot holes are typically triaged first but wet or cold weather can prevent a long-lasting fix, so the maintenance team may fill the hole as a temporary measure. They will then return when the weather has improved to effect a more permanent and high-quality fix.
The Association has a set of DOR's (Declaration of Reservations) that helps our Association keep quality standards of construction and maintenance of properties.
Click Here to learn about common issues including inoperative vehicles on properties, exterior conditions of houses, storing trash or other items in the yard.
Click Here to learn more about the difference between Noxious and Nuisance weeds.
Did you know that the Spring Creek Association is one of the largest Homeowners Associations in the nation? Although we are one of the largest, we have a significant amount of operational and maintenance duties that are underfunded because we do not receive government funding or grants. If we were a Town or City, you would not be paying Assessment Fees but taxes that would cover many of the same expenses, which could be more than you pay a month in Assessments.
Almost 47% of dues go directly to our roads, snow removal and road maintenance. The Association takes care of almost 150 miles of roads which is unique for a HOA as they typically do not span such a large distance and cover so many square miles. Did you know that the City of Elko is only about 100 miles in comparison? These Elko County Roads are dedicated to the Association for the maintenance.
When the Association was first formed, many amenities were designated including the Marina, Horse Palace, Golf Course, Rifle Range, Campgrounds, Trap & Skeet, Schuckmann’s and others. With these Common Recreational Facilities, there is a lot of maintenance and upkeep that needs to take place to ensure these amenities continue to operate as stated in the DOR’s.
Call Us: +1.775.753.6295
Spring Creek Association
We have heard a lot of frustration from property owners on this issue and thanks to the Elko County Commission and the support of the Spring Creek representative, Rex Steninger, the traveling merchant ban for the Spring Creek Association is moving forward.
It shall be unlawful for any person with the intent to sell or solicit goods and/or services, also known as door-to-door sales, to call in person at any dwelling or business or at any other place
within the boundaries of the Spring Creek Association. Any person who intentionally violates Section (F) is guilty of a misdemeanor. Political, religious and charitable organizations are exempted.
1. Call dispatch at 775-777-7300 and report the solicitor.
2. Call or email SCA so we can follow-up on the issue at 775-753-6295 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Spring Creek Association is aware that there is a growing concern of the Spring Creek membership in regards to water and water rates. Our Association has put together a volunteer Water Committee who’s focus is to establish water conservation practices, communication to Utilities Inc. and the Public Utilities Commission regarding any issues, and to ultimately try and help reduce the burden to our membership. Keep up to date by clicking here on the water progress.