The Mesquite City Councils decision to join the Virgin Valley Water Districts defense against a law suit filed against the water district is misguided.
On May 15th the owners of Paradise Canyon filed a civil suit against the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) seeking to halt the Districts restrictive pricing practices on water shares that the board had purchased from Virgin River water shareholders.
The city council moved against the owners of the Golf Course by adding to the defense an allegation that Paradise Canyon had defaulted on the 2011 effluent agreement with the city.
On Aug 29, 2018, Judge Timothy C. Williams, of the Eighth Judicial Court, Las Vegas, heard two motions to dismiss. The first dismissal motion came from Jedediah (Bo) Bingham asking the court to dismiss the civil action against the water district. The motion was denied. The second motion from Jeffrey Sylvester, attorney for Paradise Canyon asking the court to dismiss the cities action against his client was likewise denied.
The Virgin Valley Water Board (VVWB) want to take away water shares they allocated to Wolf Creek for irrigation at an irrigation market rate. They then want to lease the shares at a higher non-irrigation market rate to the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA). In part, they are trying to cover the original boards overpaying for water shares. The Judge argued that the dismissal hearings were not the place to hear actual evidence. Therefore, the issues should go ahead.
The water board is pushing the prices of irrigation water shares to meet those paid by the SNWA. However, those shares are used for two entirely different purposes. The SNWA can trade those shares for higher valued underground water. Whereas, the golf courses use those shares strictly for irrigation. Those are not the same markets, and they should not be priced the same.
To further justify their defense, the VVWB has recruited the five-members of the city council to argue that Wolf Creek should have met their irrigation water burden in part with city effluent. Thus, the Water Board could recover more shares from Wolf Creek and thereby lease more shares to SNWA.
Seven years ago, city officials attempted to pass on the costs of an effluent pumping station to Wolf Creek. More importantly, they did not have the effluent to deliver to the golf course.
Having not heard from the city for seven years, the owners of Wolf Creek were surprised when the effluent issue was added by the city council to the VVWB defense against Wolf Creek’s civil suit.
It was also a surprise since Councilmen Ballweg, Rapson and Wursten had all taken the position to not involve themselves in Water district policy. In May 2016, when they were running for City Council, Ballweg said when asked about water policy: “The first thing I want the public to understand is that the city council has no impact or say in district water policy.” “The council is not the water district.” Councilman Rapson, running
For re-election said. Candidate Brian Wursten, “I agree with George (Rapson).”
The residents of Mesquite and Bunkerville should thank the owners of Wolf Creek for challenging the Water Boards arbitrary and capricious rate increases and should question the judgement of the City Council in attempting to increase any golf course prices for water in amounts above actual, not contrived, rates.
Finally, City Councilman Brian Wursten, who manages two competing golf courses, should have recused himself from this issue.
Michael M. McGreer, Ph.D