The Ely Times

Since 2015, the Ely City Council began efforts to have businesses install backflow prevention devices at their place of business and with a few businesses left who have not taken those steps to install the device, the council had to make the tough decision last week to move forward with a more aggressive approach.

Although council members Jolene Gardner and Kurt Carson were not in attendance at last weeks meeting, Sam Hanson, Tony DeFelice and Ernie Flangas voted to approve sending certified letters to those who have not complied with the installation of the device that their water will be turned off for failure to comply with the City of Ely’s Backflow Prevention Program.

The businesses listed on the agenda are: Aldo-3 Enterprises located at 1603 Aultman St.; R&R Properties and Management on 1000 and 1011 S. Pioche Highway; Green Mountain Apartments at 195 15th St. and 9th street and Avenue C annex; White Pine Motel at 1301 Aultman St.; and Katherine Enterprises at 900 Avenue M.

What does this mean? Several of these businesses are rental properties that house several families and elderly, which could mean anywhere from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of 400 people being displaced.

The cost is not cheap, several businesses that  have already installed spent anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000 to be in compliance.

In a Ely Times news story dated July 21, 2017, the city council had concerns then.

City Attorney Charles Odgers was quoted saying “it wasn’t to harm people but to gain compliance.”

Even Carson was quoted then saying, “It’s going to create some hardship, but we’re not being fair to the people that spent the money and who are obeying the law.”

The entire council voiced concern about displacing tenants of these particular properties. Last year, Odgers was quoted saying, “If we shut off the water we are going to be affecting approximately 200 families. The landlord is going to be required to move these people out of these houses that they are no longer able to live in without water, and place them somewhere else, we don’t have an additional 250 units in Ely to absorb these families.”

This requirement was set by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection requiring backflow prevention with requirements and they vary depending on the business being operated.

The city sent out the first set of letters  in May of 2015 to all commercial businesses.

The idea is to protect the water sources from anything nefarious or illegal entering into the system.