Hostile waters

Though Nevada is used to being on “worst of” lists for everything from health care to education, the state fared well in a recent report on its water regulation.

After reviewing water pollution records in every state, the New York Times published a sprawling report this month about toxic water. Nevada’s record on violations at water facilities and its enforcement of those facilities were relatively stellar.

It’s had 5.7 violations per 100 facilities, compared to California’s 26.8 per 100 or Texas’ 69.8 per 100. Nevada also had a 100 percent enforcement rate, whereas California enforced compliance only 25 percent of the time, and Texas a meager 7.6 percent of the time. In fact, fewer than 3 percent of violations nationwide resulted in fines or some other punishment by state officials. The facility with the most violations in Nevada was the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility in Reno, with 20 violations that were enforced.

Nevada routinely has some of the nation’s worst levels of toxic releases listed on the annual Toxic Release Inventory, primarily due to gold mining. And of the violations listed in the water report, two were from mining sites—Esmeralda Project Gold Mine and Twin Creeks Mine in Golconda. However, the report only covered facilities with active permits. Nevada also had far fewer facilities to monitor than do most other states—only 161 facilities compared to 2,161 in California and 2,839 in Texas.

The article, published on Sept. 13, explains how the Clean Water Act is being neglected at a number of facilities across the country. Regulators are allowing pesticides, liquefied animal feces and other contaminants to seep into wells, causing people to suffer from skin burns, rotting teeth, cancer, kidney damage and a host of other health problems as a result. Read the full investigation and accompanying maps at