It’s been a little over two years since North Las Vegas started pumping roughly 20 million gallons of daily wastewater into Clark County’s Sloan Channel.
Between the smell and the human-sized bug swarms, neighbor Cindy Sherwood would have guessed it had been twice that long.
Sherwood said it feels like five years since she and husband, Mark Campbell, drained their pool and painted their backyard wall black in a failed attempt to ward off the mosquito-like midges that breed by the thousands in the channel.
The moment city and county officials wrap up joint construction of a 4½-foot wide pipeline set to do away with the sewer-dwelling pests — a project discussed at a public meeting Tuesday — she plans to trash her stockpile of mosquito nets and brave a backyard barbecue.
“We’re going to party,” Sherwood said before a Tuesday meeting to unveil the proposed pipeline. “We used to barbecue all the time, but it just got to be so bad in the early evening with the swarms. There’s so many you’re just slapping at them constantly.”
The city has taken creative steps to keep midges away from homes. While recent investments in twice weekly anti-algae bulldozer dredging and thousands of midge-hungry mosquitofish have helped, officials predict the cost of containing the problem would eventually outstrip the $12 million needed to solve it with a pipeline.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said city Utilities Department Senior Engineer Kenny Eickelberg. “Between us and the county, there have been maintenance costs in that channel since long before water started flowing down it every day, and as time goes by, those costs will grow.”
The city has prepaid more than half the total needed to build the pipeline and expects to pay back an additional $7 million fronted by the county over the next several years.
County officials hope to begin construction in January and wrap up by the end of the year. The solution follows a years-long legal and political saga that began after plans to funnel North Las Vegas’ waste through an underground Clean Water Coalition pipeline unraveled in 2004.
That left the city with blueprints for a gleaming new $225 million wastewater treatment plant, but nowhere to send its sewage.
City leaders opted to discharge effluent down Sloan Channel in 2011, over loud objections from county commissioners and more than a few Sunrise Manor residents downstream.
Those complaints began to die down by November, after city and county officials announced a multimillion-dollar deal that put the city on the hook for pipeline construction costs.
“Today’s business is a new era of cooperation,” County Commissioner Tom Collins told Sloan Channel’s neighbors Tuesday. “This has been one of the most frustrating things we’ve worked on, but it’s going to happen.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to have a pipeline and we’re going to get the damn bugs out of there.”
Contact reporter James DeHaven at email@example.com or 702-477-3839.