Mesquite Gaming joined numerous Mesquite businesses and the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce in asking the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) to build to second line across the Virgin River from wells in Bunkerville. The request came at the Mar. 15 meeting of the VVWD board.
Richard Tomasso, the Director of Security and Government Affairs for Mesquite Gaming told the board “We respectfully request you build the redundant or second line from Bunkerville, as I understand that the one line carries about 40 percent of the water to the area south of I-15.”
Tomasso noted that the loss of the line would be “devastating not only to Mesquite Gaming but also to the businesses in the city.” He also told the board that Mesquite could not afford a reputation as a community with water issues, as “people will stop coming.”
At the last board meeting, the directors unanimously approved $80,000 for an engineering study for the second line, but that decision came after three previous failed attempts. The board in coming weeks will begin holding budget meetings for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, and there is a concern that funding will not be approved for the actual construction of the line.
“Things like power and water have a devastating affect on a community such as Mesquite, when there is no back-up system,” said Tomasso.
Mesquite resident Gary Elgort also addressed the board and urged them to “come together.” Elgort told the board that the power outage should be a wake-up call and that “as you go through the budget I hope you focus on safe and reliable water.”
After public comments the board members reviewed what they had heard at two water conferences. Director Sandra Ramaker and Chair Nephi Julien attended a conference in St. George and directors Bubba Smith, Barbara Ellestad and Rich Bowler went to a water meeting in Las Vegas.
Chair Julien advised the board that while water levels were not dropping in the district’s water basin during the drought, “We need a mitigation plan on the books.” Julien said that conference attendees were told that was a critical issue for all districts.
Director Ellestad said that after her conference meetings she was concerned that “While we have an adequate water supply, others don’t.” Ellestad expressed concern that in a prolonged drought “What if they try and take our water.”
All the directors agreed they heard at the conferences the need to have an emergency plan in place. “Plan, plan, plan is what I heard,” said Ramaker. The board directed general manager Kevin Brown to start updating the districts emergency plans as soon as the budget process was over.
The board also discussed whether or not they needed to introduce legislation next session. It was agreed that no legislation was needed. Director Bowler suggested avoiding legislation “When you open bills you open a can of worms.” Smith agreed, “Planning for emergencies is a bigger issue than any legislation.”