Looking to avoid a “penny-wise, pound foolish” decision, directors of the Virgin Valley Water Board opted to install a new motor and high-volume pump at recently drilled well 27A on Pioneer Boulevard. In approving the added cost of new equipment during their Aug. 15 meeting, the board authorized an overage of the budgeted amount for outfitting the well by roughly $540,000.
“We are dealing with a positive dilemma,” said hydrologist Aaron Bunker in describing the pump options available to the board. Well 27A was drilled to replace the failed well 27, located only a few hundred yards away. That well had produced about 1,200 gallons of water per minute (gpm) before it failed in late 2014.
The well had just been refitted with a new submersible pump and motor when a 5-minute test run resulted in complete failure of the well casing and required drilling a new well. Expecting the new well to produce approximately the same water volume, VVWD budgeted $800,000 for all costs of bringing the new well online while using the recently-purchased motor and pump.
When well 27A proved up at a brisk flow of 2000 gpm, the district celebrated this “windfall” of water. That celebration was cut short by the reality that a 1200 gpm motor and pump could not handle the added volume of the new well, leaving VVWD with the choice of restricting the new “gusher” well 27A to under-produce on the 1200 gpm pump, or spending more money to buy a vertical line shaft pump that could handle 2000 gpm or more.
Factoring into the board’s decision is the condition and age of two of the seven wells that currently provide water for district users: well 26 off Hardy Way, and well 28 on Falcon Ridge Parkway. Both were drilled and equipped about the same time as failed well 27 and each currently pumps about 800 gpm. Both are showing signs of degradation, and could fail. If either were to fail, well 27A pumping 2,000 gpm could compensate for that water production loss. Director Rich Bowler, participating in the meeting by conference call, characterized the expenditure for a pump that would handle up to 1,000 gpm more water as “cheap water,” since buying the larger pump could sidestep the need to drill an additional well just to maintain current flow.
Director Travis Anderson inquired whether VVWD treatment plants can handle added flow from well 27A. Brown and Bunker affirmed that capability, and added that, when needed, extra treatment vessels can be added to current plants at considerably less cost than building an entirely new plant. Satisfied with the comparative value of outfitting well 27A with a higher capacity motor and pump, Anderson moved to spend the added cost of over $500,000 for that purchase. His motion carried unanimously, 4-0. Director Barb Ellestad was on excused absence from the meeting.
Authorization for design of well 34 approved
Bringing forward an agenda item tabled from their July 18 meeting, the board considered scheduling for drilling of new well 34, which will be located north of Mesquite in Lincoln County, near current well 32. Phase 1 drilling of the new well, which will add water capacity to the district, had previously been budgeted for this fiscal year for at a cost $2million.
In July, awarding of a $145,000 contract to Bowen Collins & Associates (BCA) for well design and project management was tabled when the board heard that VVWD did not have full BLM right of way (ROW) permitting for the power and transmission lines that tie well 34 to the VVWD water system.
District Manager Kevin Brown provided updates on the status of a required environmental report for the line, stating it has been determined that initial work on environmental planning was done about 10 years ago, but requires updating and filing with BLM. Knight and Leavitt Associates has been hired for that work at a cost of $10,000. With that study completed, Lincoln County BLM is expected to grant the ROW permit within 12 months.
Brown laid out two schedules for moving forward with well 34. He showed a linear timeline that delayed design and drilling of the well for 12 months until all BLM ROWs are granted. Using task time estimates for each segment of work, this timeline placed completion of the entire project at 34 months. A second timeline for the project showed BCA going forward with design, followed by well drilling, testing, pump house completion and transmission line design concurrent to the estimated 12 months that BLM will take to complete its ROW grant.
This scheduling estimates completion of the entire drilling and outfitting of the new well in about 22 months. The board voted unanimously, 4-0, on director Ben Davis’s motion to award the design contract to BCA now, and proceed with the concurrent schedule.
In other business, VVWD’s lobbyist Warren Hardy presented a summary of the last Nevada Legislature actions that pertained to the district. He noted the change of majority party in the legislature brought forward proposals that could have removed pricing authority from local water districts and placed it in the hands of counties or other government bodies. Those proposals failed.
Brown reported to the board that the district dealt with 29 lateral water leaks in July, tying the highest recorded number of leaks in one month going back 12 years. This is concerning because many of the leaks are now occurring in new pipe that was laid to replace defective pipe purchased in the past.
Board member Travis Anderson, who also serves as engineer for the City of Mesquite, happily announced completion of the paving of Riverside Road. This City-managed paving project was coordinated with the laying of VVWD’s Virgin River transmission line on that same street to avoid duplication of road resurfacing. The transmission line will provide critical redundance of water service for downtown Mesquite. All work was originally slated to be completed in early summer, and extended road disruption has been an aggravation and inconvenience for residents and businesses along the construction route. “I drove the entire road to check the paving around manholes, and it is pretty smooth,” Anderson added. “Just some bike lane markings need to be wrapped up this week.”