VVWD Board Ponders Pressure Issues

Decisions made by the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) in the years before the recession continue to cause problems for the water utility that serves Mesquite and Bunkerville.

The latest issue is the lack of adequate water pressure in some areas of the district where subdivisions were approved years ago.

District General Manager Kevin Brown presented a “Water 101” class for the board at their regular meeting on September 15.  “Water pressure in our case is determined by elevations,” Brown told the board.  Brown explained that where you have less elevation change between water tanks and the homes, the pressure is lower.  As more homes are built at higher elevations, adequate water pressure to those areas becomes more difficult to provide.

Brown identified the seven pressure zones in the district along with the locations of water tanks.  “Most water systems should operate between 40 and 80 pounds of pressure, and no system should drop below 20 pounds of pressure according to state standards,” said Brown.  He told the board that with all the modern appliances in homes, pressure shouldn’t drop below 30 pounds per square inch to function properly.

Areas experiencing low water pressure include the upper portions of Sun City near the Sports Complex, the Bella Horizon development and an area of existing homes adjacent to I-15.  Brown also expressed concern that when Sun City expands into the Tortoise Mountain area the District will have difficulty providing adequate pressure.

Board Member Sandra Ramaker asked Brown if he had met with the developers on the problems.  Brown responded “I met with them over a year ago.”  One alternative for homeowners and developers in these areas is to install individual pressure boosting devices on each home.  These devices can cost as much as $2,000 plus the cost of electricity to run them.

Board member Rich Bowler suggested that “The District get together with the developers and find a solution.”

Brown said one solution would be to place additional smaller tanks around the community and create smaller pressure zones.  “If you have ever been to the Midwest you have seen the elevated tanks,” Brown said. He suggested that additional, smaller tanks could be “looked at” as a possible solution.  Several board members expressed concerns about community resistance to tanks that are highly visible.  “I have a concern with these type of tanks because we have an esthetically pleasing community for the most part,” said Board President Nephi Julien.

Mesquite businessman Dave Ballweg urged the board to reconsider their earlier decision not to raise the water tank at Flat Top Mesa, saying that increasing the elevation of the tank could help with the pressure problems in Sun City and create a new pressure zone.

Bowler also questioned whether the new tank being considered on Mesquite Heights Road would help pressure issues.  Brown responded that it would not, although it would assist with fire flow.

After discussion, the Board directed Brown to look for alternate locations for the Mesquite Heights reservoir and to bring back to the group several alternatives for solving the pressure issues for their consideration.  The Board also directed Brown to consider setting up a committee to look at alternatives and to begin a community discussion.

The other major topic for the meeting was the new ethics rules adopted by the last session of the Nevada Legislature.  Attorney Eric Wilcox briefed the board on the new rules that affect both candidates for public office as well as current office holders.

Wilcox told the board that “Senate Bill 307 was passed to provide some definition of what is a gift and to provide some structure for what is to be reported.”  The bill also added additional requirements for public officials to disclose information on education trips and meetings.

The new statute goes into effect on January 1, 2017 and doesn’t change existing law until that date.

Wilcox explained that for something to be determined as a “gift” is has to be over $200 in a calendar year, so several smaller amounts can add up to a reportable amount.  There are exceptions to the reporting requirements such as personal gifts from “non-interested parties” and ceremonial gifts.  Wilcox emphasized that the definition of a gift will no doubt be subject to judicial interpretations and that board members would be wise to “over-report” any gift until the rules have been sorted out.

In other business the Board approved a change order not to exceed $11,000 for Hydro Resources to re-plug and abandon the old Water Tower Lane well in Bunkerville at the same time they complete the already authorized plugging of old Well Number 1.  District staff, with assistance from Bowen Collins and Associates and the State Engineers Office, was able to reduce the requirements for the closure of old Well Number 1, which resulted in a savings of 45 percent over the original projected cost.

The Board also authorized staff to seek a replacement vehicle for a truck that experienced engine failure.  The estimated repair cost would have exceeded the value of the truck.  Staff will seek a used vehicle with four-wheel drive in the $30,000 range and bring the request back to the Board for approval.

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