The Virgin Valley Water Board breezed through a short agenda on Jan. 3. The first order of business was administering the oath of office to new director Travis Anderson, representative for Mesquite, and Nephi Julien, re-elected for a second term representing Bunkerville. They were elected to the VVWD board in the November 2016 election. Anderson, a resident of Mesquite since 2000, is Mesquite’s city engineer, a position he has held since 2014.
The 2017 board consists of Anderson, Julien, and continuing directors Rich Bowler, Ben Davis and Barbara Ellestad. The newly seated board selected their officers for the coming year. Julien was nominated by Bowler to continue as president. Ellestad nominated Davis as vice president, and Julien nominated VVWD administrator Mary Johnson to continue as Secretary-Treasurer. Each nominee was elected by 5-0 vote.
In board comments, Ellestad congratulated Anderson and Julien to their new term, welcomed Davis to the vice presidency, and stated the board works for the best interest of all the ratepayers of the district.
Anderson thanked all for welcoming him, and referenced a past comment from citizen Ernie Hoffman who had urged the board to listen to their constituents. “I welcome questions and comments. I am excited to be part of the board,” he said.
Closing board comments, Julien cited the record-breaking December rains as good news for the water district.
Moving to the one agendized item for the evening, district manager Kevin Brown outlined the action before the board, possible approval of a $27,700 fee for a geotechnical report on the area proposed for the Virgin River Transmission Line Project. That project, which has been budgeted at a cost of up to $1million, will provide redundancy for water transmission to Mesquite. About 40 percent of the district’s water supply is drawn from wells on the opposite side of the Virgin River.
When the district invited bids for that proposed pipeline project in early December, none of the four interested contractors submitted a completed bid, in large part due to the lack of a current geotechnical report on soils and drilling conditions of the site. To address this shortcoming and allow a rebid, Sam Senn of Forsgren Associates, managers of the bid specifications, found three engineering companies in the area that were capable of providing such a report.
Geotechnical Environmental Services, Inc. responded with a bid of $27,700 to do the exploratory borings, soil samplings, lab testing, engineering analysis and recommendation for development of the proposed project. GES was ready and able to immediately complete that work to expedite a rebid aimed to complete the project before the 2017 high water season.
Water district manager Brown’s authority to sign off on the GES proposal is capped at $25,000. Brown notified the board members, and he took action on Dec. 22 to authorize GES to go forward. Drilling samples were gathered during Christmas week to avoid further delay.
Hearing Brown’s report on the action, director Bowler commented that Brown did the right thing and moved for approval of the GES fee of $27,700. The board passed the motion 5-0. Questioned by Ellestad, Brown clarified that GES is a local Mesquite firm. Ellestad complemented Forsgren, saying the outcome speaks to their strong relationships in the area, keeping the project on track.
The board heard comments from district accountant Wes Smith on his year-end bond report. He said the district has made progress during 2016 in servicing its debt. He also noted when the 2008 and 2011 bonds are retired, the district is not obligated to publish the year-end
report that is required by those bonds. Ellestad expressed her opinion that the reports are a valuable resource for the public, showing where VVWD resources need to be focused.
Hydrologist Aaron Bunker updated the board on the progress of the drilling of Well 27A at
Pioneer and Oasis boulevards. The crew resumed drilling of the 1,400-foot reaming drill hole, and begins inserting the welded steel casing. He said there have been no neighbor complaints about the work.
Bunker also noted water tank remediation at the airport water tank has begun. The tank is drained and cleaning started Jan. 3. Water pressure in that area of Mesquite has temporarily dropped due to this project.
Brown updated the board on the proclamation of Gold Butte as a National Monument, signed by President Obama on Dec. 28. He indicated that Aaron Baker of the City of Mesquite, along with Brown and others, will hold a conference call with Gayle Marrs-Smith of the BLM concerning the implementation of that designation. Brown confirmed that VVWD’s water rights and resources in the Gold Butte area are preserved in the document.
Brown noted he and Smith have begun looking at project recommendations for the next 15 years, with more specific information to follow in the upcoming annual budget meetings. Anderson and Davis expressed desire for projections on the cost of meeting the district’s Master Plan to 2050, which includes developing the district’s springs in Gold Butte. Brown said a study of the water resources will be needed. He approximated possible cost of piping alone at $5-$6 million, and another $20-$30 million for water treatment.
The board’s next meeting is Jan. 17 at 5 p.m. at the district office, 500 W. Riverside Road, Mesquite. VVWD board meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. More information about VVWD can be found online at vvh2o.com or by calling 702-346-5731.