Editors Note 2: In Nevada, the average purchase of off-Farm Surface Water for 2008 was $7.20 per AFA. By 2013 it has raised to $13.60 per AFA.
When Kraig Hafen left the Virgin Valley Water Board (VVWB) he asked his friend Ted Miller to run for his seat in 2006. [i] In a deposition, Miller stated that Hafen tasked him to discuss “some problems with some of the management of the board.”[[ii]]
That year, Miller joined Board members Kenyon and Cecil Leavitt, John Paul and Robert (Bubba Smith) in spending $9,148,628.96 for 124.5 shares (1,127.97 AFA) of Mesquite Irrigation Company (MIC) and Bunkerville Irrigation Company (BIC) water averaging $6,600.04 per AFA.
They used $4,380,253.88 from a $7.5 million bond purchased to cover infrastructure and building needs to cover the purchase of 55 shares (72.48 AFA) of BIC water.
Of the $4 million, $1,587,287.83 went to Duane E. and Ivona H. Magoon, Ron and Carlyn Leavitt DBA as Bunk Farm LLC and John Derrick Anderson DBA Lyle Holdings LLC for 20 shares of BIC water.
Another $2,801,968.58 was given to former board member Cresent Hardy for 35 shares (317 AFA) of BIC water.
Those purchases constituted about 30% of the entire $12,153,670.86 of public funds used to buy water between 1992 and 2010.
On June 16, 2009, Miller made a motion to the board to hire Hafen’s personal attorney, Jedediah (Bo) Bingham to replace their long-time attorney George Benesch.[v] At the next meeting, Bingham admitted that his firm had no experience with water law. [vi]
At July 21, 2008, board meeting member Cecil Leavitt said that the district had acquired more water than needed from the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) in a swap deal involving area rancher John Lonetti.
Michael Johnson, the Boards Hydrologist at the time, cautioned the board not to get ahead of itself by leasing or selling BIC or MIC shares to SNWA. If so, Johnson said they may have to use ground (culinary) water for the golf courses and potentially drill wells. [[vii]].
Nonetheless, in 2010, Karl Gustafson and Mark McEwen replaced Cecil Leavitt and Smith. They joined Paul, Kevin Leavitt, and Ted Miller in spending $209,000 on 3 shares (27.18 AFA) of water from MIC and BIC shareholders for an average price of $7,560.71.
Between 1993 and 2010 the majority of members in the VVWB were shareholders of MIC and BIC water shares. During those years they spent $12,159,670.86 in public money for 550 shares (4,992 AFA) of MIC and BIC irrigation water. VVWB spending summary
Postscript: During a May 2016 meeting of the VVWB, board member Robert (Bubba) Smith in a rare outburst said: “No, we are not lying (about water and finances), we are just not giving them (the public) all the information. We are not going to tell you the whole story.” He mocked. “Anytime someone tries to deceive people it is lying.” He said. “Every backdoor meeting closed-door meeting they (staff) are conspiring against you.,” Smith said. “They are talking about how to give it to you,” he said. They will continue to do this. It is your (the public) job to protect you from them. And that is the truth”, he added. Smith left the community for Texas and a new job.
VVWB purchase history links
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[i] Ibid at: (Id. at 230:20-231:3.
[ii] Ibid at: p. 36:1-16)(emphasis added).
[iii] Ibid at: (Id. at p.62:8-10)(emphasis added).
[iv] Ibid at: (Id. at 143:3-9).
[v] Minutes of Virgin Valley Water Board meeting for June 16, 2009.
[vi] Minutes of Virgin Valley Water Board meeting for July 7, 2009.
[vii] Minutes of Valley Water Board meeting for July 21, 2008.
[viii] Lonetti’s opposition to Virgin Valley Water Districts motion in limine Re: The Golf Course water, Biasi water, and Mr. Hafen’s and his family’s personal matters and private business dealings, electronically filed with the Clark County NV Clerk of the Court, 07:34:44 p.m.(sic) March 26, 2014.
[ix] $317.1 per AFA at 9.06 AFA per share