The water district’s board voted unanimously to purchase the lot immediately to the north of the Virgin Valley Water District’s headquarters. The lot located at 486 Riverside Road is mirror image of the district’s lot and doubles the amount of acreage available for the district’s future expansion.
Ken Rock informed the board that if the purchase was approved the escrow could close as early at Thursday of this week. It was also noted that the property was being purchased at a much reduced price since the last time it sold for over a million dollars.
Board members embraced the idea. Rich Bowler commented, “It keeps us from having to expand the facility somewhere else and increase our cost in transportation, logistics. My inclination is to approve it.” He also commended Rock for having noticed the property was for sale and bringing it to the board’s attention.
Sandra Ramaker concurred, “I think it is a good investment and it is wise that we’re moving forward.”
Ted Miller noted the financial implications. “We’re taking this money out of an account where we get less than one half of one percent interest on…in reality if you take inflation out of there that money is actually deteriorating. So at least maybe we’re going to gain something on this purchase.”
Board president Karl Gustaveson, in final comments before the board agreed unanimously to purchase the property said, “I agree with everything that has been said. …I think this will be an appreciating asset and in the long term there’s no doubt about it. Instead of spending three or four million dollars just to move, let alone build new facilities (in the future)…to have that piece of property next door will be an asset.”
The board concurred with suggestions from district’s general manager and accountant Wes Smith that a large portion of the Vanguard settlement funds should be transferred into a higher interest bearing accounts. They also agreed to changes in the district’s capitalization threshold from $1,000 to $5,000 and minor modifications the depreciation policy guidelines.
Nancy Hall executive director of the Friends of Gold Butte provided the board with copies of a map which she and the VVWD staff had prepared. The map showed existing and possible future water facilities near or in the proposed boundary of the Gold Butte National Conservation Area (NCA).
General manager Rock assisted by district hydrologist Aaron Bunker went through a slide presentation noting the district’s existing facilities and areas of potential future interest which were inside or directly adjacent to the proposed NCA.
“We have facilities which we want to maintain access to.” He also noted that he had suggested the boundary lines might be altered slightly to have less impact on the district’s existing and possible future facilities. “We talked about potentially asking for the wilderness area to may be moved down here so these roads could be moved out of wilderness and that might be easier for them. Without commitment to that, she has been very helpful and working with us on making it clear that these water rights are very important for our stakeholders.”
Hall explained that, “When I say I can’t make that decision is because I work within a coalition. One of the reasons we are bringing this in front of the board is because we do have a meeting scheduled in August so we can sit down with Senator Reid’s staff so that we make sure that…the delegation and Senator Reid’s office totally understand what the water district needs so that we can encompass that within our proposal.”
She went on to explain that they understand the district’s need to be able to maintain the roads within the proposed NCA so they could reach and maintain their equipment and facilities. She also asked the board for permission to continue working with the district and staff to be certain they encompassed all the district’s anticipated needs in their proposal.
“We know that these roads that are up on the mountain are very important to stay open and continue to have access…You need to have the ability to make those roads better if you need to get a pick-up truck and heavy equipment to take care of the resources and equipment that you have at the top of the mountain. So basically I’m asking that I can work with Aaron and Ken Rock and staff, to make sure all of the water district’s concerns are certainly encompassed within our proposal.”
Board member Sandra Ramaker asked about the map, noting that it appeared that two of the roads already had right-of-way protection. Hall agreed and pointed out that the district also appeared to have another road in the process of receiving a right-of-way designation.
Ken Rock noted that once a wilderness designation was in place budget restraints often resulted in limited maintenance of existing roads. “…We at least have permission to maintain roads as we need to.” He also noted that they had wells “just outside this area of critical environmental concern. Future development of wells, pipelines and potentially another reservoir in those areas would require access.“
Ramaker added, “So basically what we are asking for her is that it goes forward and protect this area so we can get to it as long as…that we’re not excluded. That they are aware that we need to be there.” “Not only be there but to be able to mechanically maintain the roads.” Rock added.
Hall explained that she “had conversations with you (Ken) and Aaron over the last year or so but we’d like to finalize what you really feel is most important and address it. We’re not asking Senator Reid to make any decisions here or to make his staff make any decisions, I think it’s more so that we all have a very good understanding of what a conservation area means and how legislation can be written to make sure that within the conservation area that the water rights and water accessibility is there. It’s a conversation…”
When asked how the Friends of Gold Butte was financed by Ted Miller, Hall explained that they were supported by private grants and foundations and took no government funds.
Kenyon Leavitt voiced his personal disapproval of the proposed NCA. “This is my personal opinion on this that this is saying in affect that we are agreeing with the NCA which I do not agree with. To put anything on with the water district and the Friends of Gold Butte, I’m against. We’re paying a lobbyist to get out right-of-ways taken care for us. That’s what we’re paying for, that’s what we presented to Senator Reid, but to put our name with Friends of Gold Butte, I’m against.”
Bowler countered, “We all have personal opinions about the NCA and Gold Butte, whatever, and that’s fine…It doesn’t hurt us to communicate with the Friends of Gold Butte what we want when they propose their legislation…everybody’s got a personal agenda up there, but what we need to do is what’s best for the water….and that’s secure our water rights. We need to map out our right of ways and what we want and it doesn’t hurt us to communicate that to Gold Butte and I’m not saying were in partner with Gold Butte or that we support them. I don’t want to do that as a water district. I don’t think we should be in that position to say what we support…one way or the other.”
Karl Gustaveson interjected, “You’re right. We’re not voting, we’re not being asked to vote whether to agree…
Ramaker agreed, “I think it’s important that we realize that there is somebody out here trying to help us map out our needs for future right of ways to be able to access what we have and what we might need. I think this is what this is all about.”
Bowler added, “I want them to know we are not in favor of the NCA and we’re not opposed to the NCA… all the water district’s concern is taking care of their rate payers.”
Three task orders were approved for services provided by Bowen, Collins & Associates (BCA). They included continuing to provide technical and system configuration support for software and hardware at Arsenic Treatment Facilities, funds to complete the VVWD Master Plan, and plan modifications and the expansion of scope for work on Bunkerville well no. 2.