An opinion piece by Virgin Valley Water District board member Rich Bowler misrepresents my concerns about water remaining in the Virgin Valley.
Bowler says that a previous article published in the Desert Valley Times and Lets Talk Nevada, but refused by Mesquite Local News (edited by Barbara Ellestad who is also on the VVWB), was a misleading political advertisement. That is simply not true. I am running for re-election for my last term on the Board, and I speak for myself and no one else in the water district.
Bowler quotes a former headline in the DVT “State confirms no drought in Mesquite.” Bowler should know that the headline is misleading. Experts on climate and water state that Southern Nevada remains in a drought condition. (see drought at https://www.snwa.com/ws/drought.html. What the Nevada State Water Engineer actually said in the article was: “I’m not sure how much water is in the aquifer (222) now; I couldn’t even estimate how much is there.” The article also quoted VVWD Hydrologist Aaron Bunker as saying, “It would take extensive work to figure out how much water is in the aquifer (222) right now.” This is the Basin from which all of Mesquite’s potable water is derived.
In 2012, former VVWD manager Ken Rock proposed a study of Basin 222 by the U.S. Geological Survey. Bowler, Ted Miller, and Kenyon Leavitt voted against it, thus leaving the question of available water in the hydrographic basin in question.
Bowler wants the public to believe that leasing Mesquite and Bunkerville shares of irrigation water to the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) for $1,246 per share is the way to pay for infrastructure.
Bowler insists that shares leased to the golf courses at $250 per share, as stipulated in an 8-year agreement in 2011, “are a good deal for them, and they can afford to pay more.” The majority of the board, including myself, voted to provide Pulte, Wolf Creek, and others this water because it was in the best interest for them and our community.
Bowler also says that water unused by the golf courses is wasted and ends up back in the river, but he fails to tell you that banks require a certain amount of shares to be held as collateral by some of the golf courses which operate on close margins. They require large amounts of water and cannot always predict when they will need more or less to keep the courses from drying up. There is not much that can be “worked out” as Bowler claims.
In 2014, VVWD approached Wolf Creek and Pulte to sell them the water shares they needed. After months of negotiations and what seemed like a fair agreement, VVWD backed away from the deal. Bowler complains that he can’t get cooperation from the parties who were negotiating in good faith in 2014. Is there any wonder why they won’t waste their time talking to Bowler? He also fails to mention that the VVWD in 2014 signed a 20-year agreement (with annual review) with the SNWA (not to exceed $4 million dollars) of river water to the SNWA. However, that agreement specifically stated that “Paradise Canyon and Wolf Creek and Conestoga are excluded.”
Bowler calls the amount paid by the SNWA to the VVWD “market value.” That is nonsense. The 2014 agreement specifically says “And the parties agree that the rental rate to be charged to SNWA shall not be determinative of the market rates within Mesquite and Virgin Valley generally. Rental rates for local use shall be determined to utilize local standards and input and shall not consider the rate to be paid by SNWA.”
Bowler says that the VVWD does not have shares to lease until 2019. He did not tell you about the shares that expire at the end of the month which will be raised from$250 per share per year for local users of irrigation water to the current rate established by him, Barbara Ellestad and Nephi Julian at either $1,246 or $1,512.50 per share per year. Those shares will go to SNWA as part of the 2014 agreement. I voted against the increase.
We do not need to ruin Mesquite’s economy and run our golf courses out of business.
Member Virgin Valley Water District.
(My own opinion. Does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Virgin Valley Water District or employees of the Virgin Valley Water District)
Please feel free to contact me, my phone is 702-345-2238