Spring Creek residents still face utility struggles

Logan Smith shows his water bill to the audience at the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada as Donald Lomoljo, PUCN hearings officer, looks on in September. Smith told the crowd he was billed $750 by Great Basin Water Company for using approximately 150,000 gallons of water in one billing cycle.

SPRING CREEK – Water woes were among the issues affecting Spring Creek Association residents in 2017.

A water meter reading controversy involving Great Basin Water Co. brought property owners out in force to a consumer meeting in April hosted by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada. They brought bills showing jumps in water consumption and told the PUCN and representatives from the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection how their concerns were brushed off by the water company.

GBWC argued that the meter reading problem was resolved “consistent with its tariff”; however the PUCN decided otherwise, and denied the water company’s petition, instead ordering the company on Sept. 19 to reprice eligible customers’ water bills at $3.74 per 1,000 gallons used between January and October 2016, and to improve customer service relations.

Great Basin Water appealed the PUCN’s decision, which was denied Nov. 8. In a bill stuffer to customers announcing the credit adjustment, president of GBWC Wendy Barnett told customers the company planned to take its appeal to court.

The issue brought attention to Spring Creek’s – and Elko County’s – need for consumer protection, said SCA President and General Manager Jessie Bahr.

A bill in the Legislature to require PUCN consumer meetings in rural counties failed in the lower chamber; however, the agency independently decided to add Elko County to its annual tour.

Additionally, customers of Frontier Communications in the Elko and Spring Creek area were asked to submit complaints to the Bureau of Consumer Protection. The issue highlighted the overall need for faster internet speeds required to support the rapidly growing homeowners association.

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— The Committee of Architecture embarked on property reviews that aimed to get residents to remove inoperable vehicles, mow weeds, and otherwise spruce up the area around their homes in accordance with rules and regulations. The COA reported by the end of the year that there was cooperation from property owners and an increase in resolved cases.

— The board of directors narrowly approved lifting the ban on ATVs on Oct. 25. The action allowed residents to drive off-road vehicles within the association with traffic laws to be enforced by Elko County Sheriff’s deputies.

— The board explored options for future governance of the association, which is set to expire in 2033, commissioning a feasibility study from Hansford Economic Consulting. With no clear options, the board voted to table the municipality study and focus on responding to the needs of residents.

— The Fairway Community Center opened in April, bringing a fresh look to SCA offices, the Spring Creek Golf Course pro shop and Jerman’s restaurant, with plans to rent the facility for weddings, special events and community meetings.

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Staff writer for the Elko Daily Free Press

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