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VVWD Budget Hearings Conclude, Light Meeting Agenda
Posting Date: 04/03/2012

By Barbara Ellestad

BASIN 222 PROPOSED STUDY DECLINED BY BUREAU OF RECLAMATION

The Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) Board of Directors will ratify a contract with Mesquite General Contracting for a standing asphalt patching contract at its meeting tonight that begins at 5:00 pm at the District headquarters, 500 Riverside Road. MGC was the lowest bidder at $7.35 per square foot. The contract has been awarded and work has begun on the significant backlog of patchwork around the City.

The Board will consider awarding a contract of slightly less than $10,000 to Valley Underground for work in connecting two service laterals to the District's main water line in Bunkerville. Construction of the Bunkerville multi-use path will conflict with a four-inch water line that parallels Riverside Road and services only two customers. District Staff wants to connect these two service laterals directly to the 10-inch water main and abandon the four-inch line altogether.

The last agenda item for the meeting that begins at 5:00 pm today, Apr. 3, is a request by the attorney for Robert Coache to allow the sale of a home he owns in North Las Vegas under the name of Kovadchy, LLC. Coache has been named as a co-conspirator of Michael Johnson, VVWD former Chief Hydrologist, in a criminal case brought by the Clark County District Attorney that focuses on a water share right sale in 2008 in which the two allegedly received a $1.3 million dollar bribe from local businessman John Lonetti, Jr.

The VVWD also named the two as part of a civil case in which the District seeks the return of cash and property involved in the alleged scheme.

The District proposes that all of the proceeds from the property sale, other than closing costs, escrow fees, and real estate commissions, be held in escrow until the conclusion of the litigation or until a further Order of the Court is issued. The proposed purchase price for the real property is $163,000 and a current appraisal indicates a value of $157,000.

The VVWD Board of Directors concluded its annual budget hearings on Friday, Mar. 30.

No rate hike is planned for the next fiscal year that begins July 1.

Throughout the eight hours of fiscal planning spread over two days, Mar. 19 and 30, no significant adjustments were made to expenditures in the budget.

VVWD General Manager Ken Rock announced that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) did not award the District monetary support for the proposed Basin 222 study.

Rock had been working with the USBR on a proposal that could have potentially cost the District up to $1 million to determine how much water is available in the aquifer that lies just north of Mesquite, extending into northern Arizona and southern Utah. It's the main supply for potable water in Mesquite and Bunkerville.

The cost of the study would have been shared at least with USBR. Rock had previously sought additional partners in the study, thus sharing the District's cost, but did not have other agencies or

entities lined up.

During the final budget hearing on Mar. 30, Rock proposed a replacement study in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) agency.

"In 1997 USGS did a study of the yield of the Beaver Dam Wash that appears to be the most thorough investigation for that area. Beaver Dam Wash is over half of Basin 222-but not much of Beaver Dam Wash is in Nevada," Rock said in his background memo to the Board prior to the meeting.

"Work with the USGS would be relatively easy and we think perhaps cheaper than the USBR work would have been. USGS just looks at the science of getting the water yield of the basin, whereas the USBR study also wanted to look at all of the current and projected demands and factor in global weather changes," Rock's memo added.

Rock proposed committing $100,000 of the new budget to the USGS study.

"If we know how much water is in the Basin, we can work out plans for where to put wells and pipelines. Until we know how big that bucket is, it's hard to plan for connection fees and complete any master planning," Rock explained.

During the budget meeting, Board member Kenyon Leavitt disagreed with the proposal.

"Putting another study out there doesn't mean much," Leavitt commented.

"I don't know why we're doing this without the other stakeholders involved," Board member Ted Miller added. "They made it perfectly clear with the other study that they weren't interested."

Miller was referring to the USBR proposal in which no other water user in the surrounding area offered to join in the study.

Rock indicated that between users in the three states, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, water in Basin 222 may be over-allocated. He explained that the 1997 USGS study estimated about 18,000 acre feet of water was available in the Basin. "Estimates of the amount of water available have been all over, ranging from 10,000 to 33,000 acre feet," Rock commented.

"I don't like funding the whole thing ourselves," Richard Bowler, Bunkerville representative on the Board commented.

Ultimately, the Board declined to fund the USGS study.

Wes Smith provided a final report on the FY2012-13 budget saying, "We're looking at taking $260,000 from the Vanguard [defective pipe] settlement to cover anticipated costs of repairs."

He added that income versus budgeted expenditures showed a negative balance of $114,630. "I went back through the various categories. We have $211,000 built into this budget for what I call 'contingencies.' When you're talking an $7 million dollar budget, we're getting pretty close. We're projecting our income at $7,026,000 plus $36,000 installation fee revenue."

Smith explained to the Board that the State does not require the District to submit a balanced budget. "The idea of a balanced budget is us being prudent. We have $7 million in our reserves so they are okay with us.

The District is required to file its tentative budget with the State of Nevada by Apr. 15. A final budget must be filed by May 17.

 

Commentary
  • Posted Date: 04/04/2012
    Pardon me for asking, but how can VVWD Board Members NOT want to know how much water is actually available in Basin 222? That is at best, irresponsible, and closing in on negligent.
    By: Andrew Newcom
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