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VVWD Continues Progress on Defective Pipe Replacement
Posting Date: 06/06/2012

By Barbara Ellestad
Three of the five VVWD Board members discussed water issues at their June 5 meeting. From left, Karl Gustaveson, Ted Miller, and Sandra Ramaker. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

Three of the five VVWD Board members discussed
water issues at their June 5 meeting. From
left, Karl Gustaveson, Ted Miller, and Sandra
Ramaker. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.


"Everyone is happy with their repairs so far," Tiara Gehl reported to the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) Board of Directors Tuesday, June 5, as they discussed progress made on replacing defective piping throughout homeowner associations in Mesquite. Gehl is a Provisional Community Manager with Colonial Property Management that represents several HOAs affected by the repairs the District is making.

Gehl added that four contracts between the District and individual HOA Board of Directors had been signed so far. "All associations are addressing it at their individual meetings," she remarked.

Bo Bingham, Legal Counsel to the Water District, reported that the District had made minor modifications to the contract language after he and General Manager Ken Rock had met with HOA representatives.

The agreements stem from a legal settlement the District made earlier in the year that awarded it $2.8 million for the defective Vanguard piping. The District is systematically replacing the piping and lateral connections.

"Essentially, these contracts are a covenant with the community that says we'll continue to fix the problems so please don't sue us," Rock quipped during the discussion.

"We think we're headed in the right direction so let's not waste any more money on litigation," Bingham added. "We'll be able to finish out the project." He estimated there were 26 HOAs in Mesquite affected by the defective piping.

In conjunction with that subject, the Board discussed a proposed agreement with Coronado Townhomes that would have the District accepting responsibility for the water main and laterals under the Royal Flush Court street located along South First Street.

"In 2005 when the developer for the Coronado Subdivision wished to build 14 condominiums, the City of Mesquite told them that they could not cut into South First Street to access the City sewer or the VVWD water main because the street had recently been paved," says Rock's background material for the agenda item. "The developer responded with an interesting method of putting the sewers and water main in the private property along the front of the eight condos on South First."

"Mike Winters [former General Manager] said that any unconventional system where there are mains on private property would not be part of our responsibility," says Rock's memo to the Directors.

Since that time, four Vanguard laterals have required replacement which the HOA paid for at a cost of $6,345.

"It seems like it was arbitrary at the time not to cover the pipes," Rock told the Board members. He recommended that the Board accept responsibility for the water mains located in the public easement area of the condominium development but not for the pipes that are located on private property.

Gehl, whose company also manages the Coronado Townhomes, reported that the first leak from the defective Vanguard piping occurred in June 2010. The townhome owners instituted a special assessment on themselves of $50 per month to help pay for the repairs.

Ted Miller, Board member, advised the Directors and Bingham that his wife, a real estate salesman, had recently been involved in several real estate sales in the townhome complex. He reported that no discussion had taken place between the two of them regarding the defective pipe issue and the possibility of the District accepting responsibility for the water mains. Bingham advised Miller that no conflict of interest was present, therefore Miller was eligible to vote on the issue.

The Board ultimately voted to accept responsibility for the water infrastructure that was located in

the public easement area only (but not for pipes located on private property), that the funds to reimburse the condo owners for past repairs would come from the special Vanguard settlement fund and not the District's general operating fund, and that refunds will be made after verification of the actual bills paid.

The vote was 3-0. Two Board members, Kenyon Leavitt and Richard Bowler, were absent from the meeting.

The Board also directed Rock to continue actions to purchase a three acre lot adjacent to the District's headquarters.

Rock offered and the current owner, Mesquite Riverside, LLC, accepted $340,000 for the empty land. Commercial appraiser, Morley & McConkie, LLC, appraised the land at $375,000. The last reported sale on the property was in July 2006 for $1,050,000.

The bank that holds the mortgage documents on the property must still approve the sale.

"We are in the contingency period with the stipulation that I couldn't seal the deal until the Board approved it," Rock advised. "We want to execute the sale by the end of July. We'll come back and ask you for your final approval at our second meeting in July."

Aaron Bunker, District Hydrologist, reported that repairs on Well #32 have been completed and that it has been working well for the last two weeks. "It's keeping up with the demand. We may need to run Well #33 sporadically through the summer but Well #32 will reduce the stress on it tremendously.

Two 500 horsepower motors were replaced by one 350 horsepower motor in the well. The original motors were excessively large for the amount of water the well could produce resulting in higher operating costs.

"We have greatly increased the efficiency of the Well while decreasing the operating costs of it," Bunker explained.

He also advised the Board that repairs on Well #33 would be delayed until the Fall in order to keep it as a back-up during the summer months.

"Layne Christensen Company did an excellent job on the Well," Bunker added. He estimates that the total amount spent on the project was around $400,000 which is "what we originally estimated."

In his General Manager's report, Rock said the District Staff had already completed 110 defective lateral replacements and would not require a temporary laborer hire for the summer months.

"Please pass on to the Staff that they have done a great job on this project," Sandra Ramaker, Board member commented to Rock.

Rock provided the Board with an update on a proposed Basin 222 study that would help determine the amount of water in the aquifer that supplies the majority of potable water to Mesquite and Bunkerville. The aquifer lies under the corners of Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. All three states have issued water usage permits from the basin.

See Mesquite Citizen Journal story VVWD Board Asks For Water Basin Study Proposal, Finalizes Budget

The proposed study would be completed by the U.S. Geological Survey with costs shared 50-50 between it and the VVWD.

Rock said that Jason King, Nevada State Water Engineer, "had completed a conference call with Kent Jones, Utah Division of Water Resources State Engineer, and Sandy Whitney, Arizona Division of Water Resource Director. All agreed that a comprehensive USGS study of the Lower Virgin River Valley would be helpful and that they would support the project and the data it produces for the determination of water use. They also all agreed, however, that none of their agencies has money to spend on this, so they would have to rely on other for funding."


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