The City of Mesquite filed an official motion to intervene in the lawsuit between Paradise Canyon and the Virgin Valley Water District with the District Court in Las Vegas citing a contract dated in 2000 between it and Wolf Creek golf course.
Paradise Canyon, which owns the golf course, began the lawsuit in May against VVWD asking the court to interpret a 2011 lease agreement that provides the golf course with irrigation water. The city became involved in August when City Attorney Bob Sweetin provided the district with an affidavit saying “In 2011, when Wolf Creek and [VVWD] were discussing and negotiating leases of the District’s irrigation shares, the price for the District’s irrigation shares was so low ($250) per share) that the City feared Wolf Creek might refuse to purchase effluent from the City and take the District’s irrigation shares instead. Accordingly, the City requested and the District included a provision in its lease agreement requiring all lessees to use available effluent before using the District’s irrigation shares.”
Sweetin also said in his affidavit that “I am informed that Wolf Creek has alleged that the City does not have effluent available for Wolf Creek. Such a claim is false. The City does have effluent available for Wolf Creek.”
Sweetin adds that “If Wolf Creek continues to refuse to accept the available effluent, the City may take action against Wolf Creek for breach of the Agreement.”
In its original May court document, Paradise Canyon said that the city “has not made available for use effluent water and that its failure to use effluent water does not constitute a material breach” of a 2000 contract.
The May document also says, “Paradise Canyon seeks a declaration from this Court as to the requirement, if any, to accept effluent water from the City of Mesquite and a declaration that it has not materially breached the Lease.”
In the city’s motion to intervene it said, “Paradise Canyon has simply refused to take effluent water from the City since that time  under its own erroneous interpretation of the effluent agreement between the City and Paradise Canyon.”
The city’s court filing says that since the 2000 contract is only between it and the golf course, the water district does not “adequately represent the City’s interests.” Sweetin also said that the “Plaintiff [Paradise Canyon] has squarely placed the interest in effluent water at issue.” He explained that the city raised the effluent water issue in 2011 with the golf course through two letters it sent asking Paradise Canyon to start using the treated water at Wolf Creek.
“Paradise Canyon refused, and never took it,” Sweetin declared. Rather, he said “Paradise Canyon’s attorney responded to the City’s first letter explaining why Paradise Canyon felt it could not take effluent water at that time, providing both an inaccurate factual explanation as to a pump station, and a self-serving interpretation of the effluent agreement.”
Sweetin also said the court can’t decide Paradise Canyon’s original complaint against VVWD “without first determining whether the Plaintiff was obligated to take effluent water from the City of Mesquite.” Should the court decide that Wolf Creek is required to take whatever water the city has to offer, Sweetin says the city will have to adjust its current allocation of the water.
Should the court decide that Wolf Creek is not required to use city water, Sweetin says “The long-term planning for effluent use and sale of effluent water from the City’s wastewater treatment plant will be immediately impacted.”
Currently, the water district’s irrigation water costs the golf course $250 a share with 155 shares under lease. An equivalent amount of effluent water would cost the golf course about $600 a share. The water district is proposing to potentially increase its water costs up to $1,246 a share in 2020.
Even though Paradise Canyon originally asked the court to rule on the city’s 2000 effluent water contract, in its most recent document it argued against the city’s motion to intervene saying that the contract requires any disputes to be settled by mandatory arbitration by an outside arbiter. The golf course also argues that the water district “is currently, and adequately, representing the City’s interest.”
The golf course also says that the 2011 dispute with the city did not result in a notice of default by either party. “Though nearly 17 years have elapsed since Wolf Creek and the City executed the Effluent Agreement and more than 6 years after the City claimed to have effluent water available, the City has yet to issue a notice of default and has failed to commence an arbitration to resolve the conflict – to the extent that a conflict still exists.”
Paradise Canyon said its original complaint “seeks a declaration as to the rights and obligations of Wolf Creek and the District pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Lease Agreement – not the Effluent Agreement. If Wolf Creek is not in default of the Effluent Agreement, there can be no basis for the District to assert it has defaulted under the terms of the Lease.”
Both the water district and the golf course submitted to the court their respective lists of potential witnesses should the case reach trial.
While both lists include the expected names, including current water district board of directors, Paradise Canyon included former VVWD general manager Ken Rock, former board members Karl Gustaveson, Sandra Ramaker and Bubba Smith, and Barbara Ellestad – not identified as a former board member but as an individual.
Paradise Canyon also included Mesquite Gaming CEO Anthony Toti and Brian Wursten, identified as the General Manager of the Casablanca Golf Club and current city council member. Mesquite Mayor Al Litman and city manager Andy Barton are also included on the potential witness list.
The water district’s list of potential witnesses include the city attorney, Cory Clemetson and Chad Clemetson, both owners of Wolf Creek golf course, and Kathy Bussman, former finance director for Wolf Creek.
The court has scheduled a settlement conference for Monday, Dec. 17, in Las Vegas.