By Kirk Kern
Water is always going to be a hot topic of discussion when discussing growth in Nevada, and Mesquite in particular. At the Tuesday, Aug. 10, city council meeting, Michael M. McGreer, representing the Mesquite Water Alliance, addressed the council with concerns about water availability and over-appropriation.
The Mesquite Water Alliance is a non-profit group that has a pending 501(c)3 application. It’s mission statement is to promote sustainability of local water resources by building a collaborative decision-making structure that supports regional public water policy.
McGreer stated that Nevada is the driest state in the United States, with an average annual precipitation rate of 9.5 inches. The southern region of the state, which is primarily Clark County, is even less at 4 inches of precipitation a year.
McGreer stated the state water engineer says the amount of water used shouldn’t exceed the perennial yield, which in Mesquite’s case is 3,600 acre feet. McGreer says the basin is over-appropriated, allowing 12,271 acre feet annually.
He said state law requires municipalities must be in compliance with Nevada water law, which follows the perennial yield. However, during public comment on this issue, Kevin Brown, general manager of the Virgin Valley Water District, said the state engineer has appropriated 12,271 acre feet and the district is pumping 7,000 acre feet of ground water.
“We do have 20 monitoring wells throughout the basin that show the levels haven’t changed in several decades,” Brown said. “We do not have a water issue problem whatsoever.”
As part of McGreer’s proposal, his organization proposed, first, establishing whereas growth is commensurate with water sustainability and availability.
And, second, ensure that city council members:
1. Act as fiduciaries in any decision that directly or indirectly involves the consumption, availability and sustainability of water.
2. Recognize that Basin 222 is a Critically Managed Basin with no unappropriated water. Order 793 Nevada Revised Statues (NRS) 533.370(2)
3. Follow a State Water Engineer “water budget” for groundwater. Senate Bill 47 (NRS 533.024).
4. Ensure that underground and surface water is managed conjunctively. Senate Bill 47 (NRS 533.024).
5. Keep to a city council approved, scientifically based, water resource plan. SB150.
6. Establish water conservation for the community based upon the Southern Nevada Water Authority model.
7. Consider appointing a member of the Council to the Commission to Study the Adjudication of Water Law Cases,
Councilman Brian Wurston asked McGreer what he thought the council should do about any future new housing or commercial developments that come before the board.
“I really think you need to table those issues until you have a water plan that tells you what the water budget is and how much is available,” McGreer said.
Councilwoman Sandra Ramaker commented that Brown will address the council at the next meeting in two weeks and that state water engineer Adam Sullivan will address the council two weeks after that.
In his comments, Mayor Al Litman continued to urge Mesquite residents to get vaccinated for Covid-19.
“In my opinion, we are not doing our part to help others that we don’t get a vaccine that not only will protect us, but will protect our friends, our families and other people we know,” he said. “I’m not doing my job as a spokesman for the city if i don’t urge all of you to stop thinking about yourself, but to think about how you can help others.”
He said there’s a lot of misinformation out there on social media that has discouraged a number of people from getting vaccinated.
“We’re all in this together and Mesquite should set the example,” he said. “I’m getting tired of hearing about people dying. Is the vaccine perfect? No. But it’s the best thing we have right now.”
In council comments, Ramaker announced that a county satellite office will be opening sometime in October to issue marriage licenses and allow for other county businesses in Mesquite.
• Approved a resolution finding that the sale of approximately 4.16 acres of a 17.69 acre parcel of city-owned property at 515 Isaac Newton Drive for economic development purposes is the best interest of the City of Mesquite. The vote was 5-0.
• Approved a purchase and sales agreement between the City of Mesquite and Juan Carlos Sanchez and Maricela Perez for 225 Jody Court in accordance with Mesquite City Charter 2.330. The vote was 5-0.
•Approved a tentative map for Dusty Rose Subdivision – Unit 22 of the Anthem at Mesquite PUD to subdivide 51.32 acres into 159 single-family residential lots plus common open space areas. This property is zoned single-family residential. The vote was 4-1, with Ramaker voting against.
• Approved a development contract for Virgin Valley Pioneer Park between Dixie and Anne Leavitt Family Foundation and the City of Mesquite. The vote was 5-0.
• Approval of the One Nevada Agreement on allocation of opiod recoveries from potential settlements. The vote was 5-0.
• Representatives from the PREEN YOUR PET 2022 Calendar Contest/Fundraiser made donations of $1,015.66 to the following entities: Friends of Mesquite Animal Shelter, Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue and We Care for Animals. The calendar will be out for sale in the fall.
• Representatives from the 333 Eagles Landing Charity Golf Tournament for Fire and Police Department’s First Responders. presented a check for $7,500 raised, with $3,750 each for each entity.