During the last city council meeting, my fellow Councilmembers decided against supporting my resolution to change the board of the Virgin Valley Water Board from 3 to 4 from Mesquite and reduce the Bunkerville representation from 2 to 1. The adjustment, had it been supported by the Council and passed into law would have ensured that the Mesquite residents were not disadvantaged in water board decisions.
When formed Mesquite constituted about 80% of the population to Bunkerville’s 20 %. Today Mesquite represents about 93 % of the service population to 7 percent for Bunkerville. Those forming the Water Board calculated the ratio of water contributions at 64% Mesquite and 36% Bunkerville. However, about 20% of the Bunkerville water contribution came from their permits of Virgin Mountain spring water that, because of its scarcity and costs cannot be developed.
It is now the policy of the state to consider all water together which includes Mesquite managed effluent. Adding the effluent to the water budget and deducting the unusable spring water makes Mesquites contribution 85% and Bunkerville’s 14%.
Councilman George Rapson prefers to look at the water board as a business with the users as investors. Following the Councilman’s logic, those on the board who see the water board as a business, made a mistake in not supporting the change in the water board. Under that business scenario, Mesquite investors constitute more than 80% of their money and water to that “business.” As investors, they have a right to expect a 4 to 1 management board that would ensure that their “investments” in money and water is not disadvantaged by competitors from the neighboring community.
I raised the membership issue as part of my promise to the Mesquite residents to bring their concerns to the Council and before the public for airing. This is not a new issue. It was raised 11 years ago by former Mesquite Mayor Susan Holecheck.
Unfortunately, one member of the Council and a member of the water board felt that I was raising the issue as a pawn or employee of the Wolf Creek golf course. The owners of Wolf Creek has brought a civil suit against the water board arguing that their pricing strategies are arbitrary and capricious and violate contracting law.
I am not an employee of Wolf Creek. My husband and I live on our retirement savings. However, I do recognize that Wolf Creek brings millions of dollars into this community, pays significant taxes, and are in the top tier of water rate payers. I am happy when any individual or business sees fit to support me, and I support any individual or business rights to question government action in the courts.
The impact of climate change on our water resources is a major concern for me. I am concerned that the water board is taking more water from the aquifer then the perennial yield allows. Doing that impacts the ability of the basin to recharge and has a negative effect on the basin’s physical and chemical integrity.
Water is the limiting factor in our economic success. We simply cannot grow beyond that limitation. Therefore, I fully support the state’s policy to study all sources of water together (including effluent) and will work with the Governor and the State Water Engineer to put a study of our basin on the top tier of their study initiatives.
Sandra Ramaker, City Council Member