It doesn’t smell.
Residents who feared a new water reclamation plant in southwest Henderson would cause a stink in their neighborhood were happy to be proved wrong.
A couple of them were present Wednesday at St. Rose Parkway between the Las Vegas Beltway and Eastern Avenue when Mayor Andy Hafen and other city officials opened the facility, which sends treated effluent to nine golf courses and a cemetery, as well as Lake Mead.
“They kept their word. The berm is nicely maintained, and you can’t smell or hear anything,” said Theresa Copin, who lives near the Southwest Water Reclamation Facility. She was referring to a landscaped berm that shields the facility from its neighbors.
“We did a lot of citizen outreach,” Hafen said.
Part of that effort was the work of a study committee made up of city employees and residents of the nearby Serene County Estates. The panel is responsible for coming up with the berm idea.
The committee was so effective that it will not disband now that the plant is open but instead will work with the city on other issues in southwest Henderson, said Dennis Porter, director of the city’s Utility Services department.
The reclamation facility, which cost $94 million to build, is the most expensive public works project the city has ever undertaken.
The city has one of the most aggressive water reclamation programs in the nation, Porter said.
Construction of the long-planned plant began in 2008 — just after the economy went south — amid assurances to nervous neighbors that the facility would not emit foul odors or be unduly noisy.
The treatment plant is state of the art and does not have the odor-generating open-air lagoons like previous sewer plants have had. The plant was paid for with 20- and 30-year bonds issued in 2006.
Hafen said water is essential to life and rare in arid Nevada.
“We reclaim every drop of water used in Henderson homes,” he said. Henderson is the only city in Nevada that can make that claim.
That reclaimed water is used on the city’s nine golf courses, landscaped medians and the Palm Mortuary cemetery on Boulder Highway near Major Avenue. What isn’t used is sent to Lake Mead.
The city’s parks, numbering about 100, could use reclaimed water in the future, with ballfields, Porter said.
The facility sits on 20 acres, but much of that acreage is taken up by the berm. The plant itself is contained on seven acres.
The plant has the capacity to treat 8 million gallons of effluent a day, which is the waste from about 90,000 homes, but at first will process a bit more than half that amount, Porter said.