At 5.p.m. Tuesday the Mesquite, NV City Council will vote on a resolution to reduce the membership of the Virgin River Water District (VVWD) from 3 citizens of Mesquite and 2 from Bunkerville to 4 from Mesquite and 1 from Bunkerville.
This is a fairness and economic issues directly impacting all Mesquite business and residents. In 2017 the total population of Mesquite and Bunkerville had grown to 19,844. Of that total 18,541 (93.43%) resided in Mesquite. Approximately 1,303 (6.57%) resided in Bunkerville.
This is not a new issue, nor a conspiracy. When originally formed, a member of the City Council and one from Bunkerville were appointed to the 5-member virgin valley water board board. That later changed to all elected members. Former Mesquite Mayor Susan Holecheck raised the disparity issue approximately 11-years ago. Further, revamping of the VVWB membership to a 4:1 was presented to the 2017 legislative session. Supporters were advised to obtain City Council support and bring it to the 2019 legislative session which begins next month.
On the surface, this resolution may seem to be much to do about nothing. City Councilmen George Rapson and Brian Wursten have both stated that the City should not be involved in water issues. That was the job of the water board. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
There are dozens of ordinances, county regulations, and state and federal laws that require the city council to make water related decisions Every time the Council zones an area, approves a business, or residential dwelling it requires consumption of water and confirmation by the City that water exists. And in 2017 the legislative passed, and the Governor approved mandates to study all water resources including city managed effluent.
Do not assume that what water board members and their employees say about water availability is true. They think that water follows population growth. In fact, water is a scarce resource and limits economic development.
It is likely that the limitations and the distribution of all sources of water will come from the 2017 mandate and funding limitations. From these findings, the City Council must make economic development decisions which the Water Board could approve or deny.
Soon, who gets water and who does not will limit growth. A 4 to 1 water board changes the water board’s decision making from 60% Mesquite 40% Bunkerville to 80 % Mesquite and 20% Bunkerville. 4 to 1 (80%-20%) is the fair and equitable ratio.
This may be the most important decision that the Mesquite City Council will make this year. Each time one Mesquite water board member align with Bunkerville water board member for more water, more infrastructure or more diversions of money to the Bunkerville Irrigation Company water shareholders it is an immediate deduction from Mesquites economic development.
This vote is a test of community loyalty. Do City Council members support the economic development of Mesquite or the that of Bunkerville? It is that simple.
Michael M. McGreer, Ph.D
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