VVWD Board to Carson City in Insurance Dispute

The board of the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) escalated the fight with their insurer at the district’s Tuesday board meeting, July 21.  The dispute over two claims with the Nevada Public Agency Insurance Pool (Pool Pact) has been ongoing for several years.  At issue are two $500,000 claims for reimbursement for losses the district sustained when two district employees fraudulently transferred district owned water shares in the Bunkerville Irrigation District.  Pool Pact has maintained that shares of water are not “securities” and are thus ineligible for coverage.

The board voted unanimously to send directors Rich Bowler and Barbara Ellestad to Carson City to meet directly with the board of Pool Pact.  While there, the directors will also meet with the Nevada Insurance Commissioner and the Attorney General to press their case.

“Their service is horrific,” said director Rich Bowler.  He went on to complain that under the bylaws of Pool Pact a local government cannot fire them without 120 days notice.  Further, Pool Pact has adopted bylaw amendments that assert that they cannot be sued by a member jurisdiction.

Director Ellestad added that the City of Mesquite recently held a meeting with representatives of Pool Pact to discuss their problems with the handling of City claims.  I can’t believe we are the only two jurisdictions having troubles with them,” said Ellestad.  She then asked district lobbyist Warren Hardy, who was at the meeting to give a legislative report, to begin work on a bill to put Pool Pact directly under the jurisdiction of the state insurance commissioner.  Hardy will also assist the district in setting up meetings with the insurance commissioner and the attorney general.

In other business the board voted unanimously to approve the comments prepared by district manager Kevin Brown on proposed oil and gas leases in “Group A” to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  Brown prepared four pages of comments opposing the leasing of oil and gas exploration on the parcel located within the Virgin River watershed some six miles from Mesquite.

Brown’s comments noted that “The District holds 98.5 percent of the permitted water rights,” within the area BLM is considering for leasing.  Brown also noted that two of the district’s eight wells are located in Lincoln County “Just a few miles from the Group A parcels.”

The board also agreed to write individual letters to BLM opposing the leasing.

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