Vandals have hit two of Lyon County's water tanks, one of them brand new, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Someone shot a hole into the new Six Mile Canyon water tank with what Mike Workman, Lyon County Utilities director, said had to be a high-powered rifle. He said since the tank was made to withstand most gunfire, he believed the hole had to be made with "some kind of armor-piercing bullet."
Also, a tank in Mound House has been the target of taggers.
"People wonder why their water rates go up," Workman said. "These things really add to our costs."
Workman said the department plugged the hole in the Six Mile tank with a thread-in plug that is not a permanent fix.
"To fix it correctly, you have to weld a patch on it and repaint it inside and out with a special paint," he said. "To do that, you have to drain the tank, put up scaffolding, things like that. It's very expensive to fix."
Workman said graffiti is expensive to remove, and he didn't anticipate painting over it this time.
"We just got it repainted," he said. "The last time it cost us probably $3,500, but to do it properly, if the tank needs repainting, it could be much more."
Workman said the extent of the damage indicated the perpetrators were at the tank site "for some time, and in the daytime."
What bothers Workman most, though is that folks are getting near water facilities.
"It's kind of risky," he said. "These people are cutting through chain-link fences. At some point, there could Department of Homeland Security issues."
Lyon County Sheriff Sid Smith said that though there are provisions in the Homeland Security Act for prosecution if the vandalism was an attempt to disrupt or damage the water, but not for this kind of vandalism. A conviction for vandalism, a misdemeanor, could bring a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail, or both.
Lyon County District Attorney Leon Aberasturi said that although he would prosecute juveniles under state statutes, adults caught vandalizing water tanks might face more severe federal charges.
"If it's adults, we would look into if there were any federal offenses and maybe ask the U.S. attorney to look into it," Aberasturi said.
Lyon County is not the only area to face water tank vandalism. According to Tom Hoffert, Carson City's Public Works operations manager, three Carson City tanks have been the target of graffiti artists, the most recent being the Prison Hill tank at the end of Koontz Lane.
The Carson City tank near the damaged Mound House tanks was also hit several months ago, he said.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@ nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.