McGill Water System Improvement Project


The unincorporated town of McGill is located approximately 12 miles northeast of Ely on Highway 50/93 in White Pine County. The town of McGill was constructed and completed by Consolidated Copper around 1920. The copper mine's ore processing facilities were located in McGill due to the abundant water supply from Duck Creek. Consolidated Copper sold their holdings in McGill to Kennecott Copper in 1939. Kennecott divested its residential land holdings to private citizens in 1962 through the John W. Galbreath Company. Galbreath platted lots and blocks, sold them, and operated the water and sewer systems until the condition and poor economy forced Galbreath to turn over the water and water utility to White Pine County. In 1984, the County formed an NRS 318 General Improvement District to operate the water and sewer systems of McGill and Ruth. Since 1984, the District has spent over $5 million on the water systems of Ruth and McGill.

The town of McGill used lightly filtered Duck Creek surface water from the mine for years. In the early 1990s the Surface Water Treatment Rule would have required treatment of the water from Duck Creek if it was to continue to be used as a source of drinking water. Also, Kennecott Copper needed all the water from Duck Creek to water the mine tailings for air quality control purposes. In 1992, Kennecott drilled a new well in Steptoe Valley south of McGill and laid pipe to the water tanks. This well is the only source of water large enough to supply McGill. When the new large well was struck by lightening in the summer of 2000, the town of McGill had to ration water. The current back-up well in Town is a 100 year old hand dug well that was cased and equipped with a submersible pump. The location of this well near the old copper smelter and history of the well makes it of questionable sanitary construction. In addition, it cannot keep up with normal summer demand. Another well, similar in construction and production to the 1992 well is needed as a back-up.


The McGill-Ruth Consolidated Water and Sewer General Improvement District applied for a grant under the AB 198 program to assist with a water system improvement project. The grant was approved by the Board for Financing Water Projects on September 19, 2002, for $476,018 (61.5% of the total eligible project cost of $774,013).

The scope of the project includes: the installation of 651 water meters, the construction of one 12" well, providing back-up power generation, and properly abandoning the old town well.


The project was delayed pending the completion of a sewer improvement project and was further delayed awaiting a resolution on water rights from the State Engineer prior to commencing installation of the well. The well and meters are complete and the old town well has been properly abandoned. The system was turned over to the owners in December 2006.

Home Page
Current Grant Recipients

Home Page
Water Grants Program

Site Index  —  Topic Index
NDEP Home Page