Jedediah (Bo) Bingham, the attorney for the Virgin Valley Water Board (VVWB), plans to explore the legality of leasing water in perpetuity when a lawsuit filed against the Board comes before the Judge.
On May 15, 2018, Paradise Canyon LLC, (Wolf Creek golf course) filed a civil suit (A-18-774539-B) against the VVWB seeking to halt their restrictive pricing practices.
In 2011, paradise Canyon LLC (Wolf Creek) golf course owners paid a one-time fee of $25,575 for a “Right of First Refusal” in its irrigation water lease agreement with the VVWB. The golf course owners claim that the “Right of First Refusal” is a perpetual right. .
Bingham, is a family trust lawyer, not a water counselor. Nonetheless, he was VVWB’s “legal authority” when the parties agreed to the original lease. Now, Bingham is arguing that the perpetual clause is for the court to decide.
The water in question is Virgin River water acquired by the VVWB from Mesquite Irrigation Company (MIC) and Bunkerville Irrigation Company (BIC) shareholders.
The Virgin River is a tributary of the lower Colorado River Basin. It is managed and operated under an international treaty, compacts, federal statutes, regulations, court decisions and decrees, contracts, and other legal documents and agreements that are commonly known as the “Law of the River.”
The Colorado River Compact of 1922 is the foundation agreement governing the Colorado River and sets apportions of Colorado River water in “perpetuity” between the Upper and Lower Basins.
Arguably the 1922 Compact has settled the issue. Apportions of the Colorado River including its tributaries, without which there is no Colorado River, is perpetual. By default, the golf course has a perpetual right to use Virgin River water originally appropriated to it by the VVWB.
If Bingham’s argument that the Golf Course water is not perpetual, then it can be argued that MIC and BIC shareholders holding water for 113 years is long enough.