(LAS VEGAS, KXNT)–Add this to your list of road hazards that can make your daily drive a mess: water valve covers.

Say what? Those heavy, discus-like metal objects that cover water valves on local streets–think of manhole covers–can be a danger if they loosen and are pulled out of place by passing traffic.

Its a rare occurrence to be sure, but it happens.

Peter Dixon knows. A valve covering went bouncing into and under his car in busy evening traffic on South Jones recently. Dixon’s car sustained $6,000 in damages, including a ripped oil pan and damaged transmission. His car insurance does not cover such collisions.

And the Southern Nevada Water District is not responsible.

District spokesman Bronson Mack tells KXNT there are more than 100,000 such valve covers on area streets. On an average of once a month, one of them will come loose from constant traffic or heavy trucks–or even from vandals tampering with them–and can become a serious threat to a vehicle if they’re bouncing around the street.

Mack cited a law–Nevada Revised Statute 41.033–which absolves public agencies of liability for hazardous conditions about which they have no prior knowledge.

Dixon complained to the District but didn’t get far. He showed up in person at the Water District office but was asked to leave. He says a security guard drove him home, and he was given lunch and a 60-day bus pass. He has since had a conversation with a county commissioner, has written other public officials, and plans to be at this week’s Water District meeting asking they address the issue by putting it on their agenda.

Spokesman Mack cited figures indicating there is an average of about one complaint a month for a local resident or driver who complains of damage or injury caused by a stray valve cover.

Dixon thinks he may have one more course of action. When his car was damaged on South Jones, he encountered a local business owner who said he had heard the ‘clank clank clank’ of a loose valve covering as traffic drove over the covering near the office, and had called to complain about it. Dixon is hoping if that if there is a record of that complaint, he may still have recourse.

In the meantime, that bus pass will be expiring soon.




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