The Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) spent over two hours in a special meeting on May 9 trying to resolve design standards that must be met by developers, and on how to implement legislation allowing the district to retrieve “will serve” letters issued in the past.
The major design standard issues revolve around what the minimum water pressure should be in new subdivisions and determining who is responsible for maintenance of water lines within Planned Unit Developments (PUD’s).
Water pressure has been an issue for years in the higher elevations of the city. District director Rich Bowler stated he believes “Developers should disclose to homeowners if there is a low water pressure issue in a subdivision.” Other directors agreed, Barbara Ellestad stating “We should meet the state standards, period.”
District manager Kevin Brown, noted that individual homes can purchase pumps to increase water pressure if they wish, and the problem areas are limited to only the very highest elevations in the district. Brown also said that the district was working with Pulte Group in Sun City to resolve pressure issues with some engineering changes.
The board then agreed to have the design standards include the minimum water pressure standard of 30 psi, which is also the state minimum. In response to a question from John Schippert of Pulte Group, the board also directed staff to provide developers with the water pressure at the connection to the subdivision so company engineers can adequately design their systems.
The second issue of maintenance of water lines and hydrants within PUD’s was more difficult to resolve. The board unanimously agreed that maintenance of lines and hydrants within PUD’s with a single meter was the responsibility of the homeowners association (HOA). The more complicated discussion was repair and maintenance within HOA’s where each home has a separate meter.
Director Bubba Smith said that fire hydrant checking used to be the responsibility of the city fire department, but the new chief “reversed the long-standing policy unilaterally.” Manager Brown said that hydrants were a safety issue for fire department, “not for the water system.”
After discussion, the board decided that more research was needed on both issues and tabled the discussion until the June 21 regular board meeting.
The board then turned to how to implement Senate Bill 271, which allows the district to revoke commitment letters for water service, or “will serve” letters that were given to developers in past years, and where no or little development has occurred. According to district staff, a review of past will serve letters issued to defunct subdivisions and lots that have never been developed would yield enough water for construction of 5,000 homes in the future.
Director Smith said that getting the will serve letters revoked is “the most important thing the water district has done in the past 20 years.”
Manager Brown told the board that “Staff has generated a list and now the issue for the board is how to free up the water.” Brown and staff then gave the board a list of eight questions that they wanted the board to set policy on, including an appeal process, who determines when a developer has been building at a rate that will allow keeping the will serve letter in force and whether the will serve revocation applies to both commercial and residential properties.
VVWD attorney Bo Bingham said that while the legislation was clear on a general process, and that the district can withdraw the will serve letters, there was also latitude for the board to adopt policies on appeals and other issues.
Director Ellestad agreed that there should be an appeal process of staff decisions to the board, but that “it is incumbent on the person who holds the will serve to come in and tell staff,” if the will serve should remain in force. The board agreed to provide a 45 day period for appeal of staff decisions on will serve letters.
Bingham pointed out that every property owner that has a will serve letter will get a notice from the district explaining the process and what the district hopes to accomplish. Brown also said that a newspaper notice will be published to make sure “everyone knows what is going on.”
The board also agreed that both commercial and residential properties will be subject to the new rules and possible revocation of will serve letters.
New will serve letters will list the rules for keeping the letter in force. “The problem will be the first couple of years as we deal with all the old will serve letters, after that everyone should understand the rules,” said Ellestad.
Bingham told the board that the staff would come back to the board with a written policy that reflected the discussion.