No decisions were reached at last week’s meeting to discuss direct elections for directors on the Virgin River Water District board.
A half dozen local residents attended a workshop at the Virgin Valley Water District offices on Sept. 13 to comment on proposed changes to the VVWD charter.
Discussion was limited to changes in the make-up, election, appointment, represented geographic area and other aspects pertaining to the board’s members. Public input is a necessary step to enable the Nevada State Legislature to create the required statutory action for any proposed changes to the VVWD charter.
Representation on the board is set at three members from Mesquite and two from Bunkerville. The Mesquite City Council appoints one, while the Bunkerville Town Advisory Board (TAB) appoints another.
Barbara Ellestad of Mesquite supported direct election of all board members and keeping the status quo as far as the number of representatives. Duane Magoon of Bunkerville agreed with the current level of representation as did Mary Ann Lovett of Bunkerville . She asked about term limits to which VVWD attorney, Bo Bingham replied, “Term limits are regulated by Nevada state law.” Bill Tanner of Mesquite suggested staggered terms for board members.
Following the brief public comments, Bingham advised that there were some potential issues in adopting an elected board. To that point, he cited a recent lawsuit in California (Salyer Land Company vs. Tulare Water District) wherein the concept of “one man-one vote” was tested. In this case the court ruled that the local water district was within its right to restrict voting for board members to land owners only. That case could have a bearing on the level of representation on the local water board since Mesquite has roughly eight times the population of Bunkerville.
The obvious question arising from that case is who would actually control water policy? Should farmers and golf course operators have a bigger voice than a homeowner? Duane Magoon, a local farmer, recalled that the original level of representation on the water district board was based upon water usage rather than population.
Since no formal action was to be taken during this meeting, the matter is to be referred to the Mesquite Councils and Bunkerville TAB. Board President Karl Gustavson reiterated that there were timing issues in getting any proposed changes into legislative session as he adjourned the meeting.