Las Vegas, Nv. On November 06, 2020, Jedediah (Bo) Bingham, the attorney for The Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD), amused himself by denigrating the owners and attorneys for the local Wolf Creek Golf Course by accusing them of lying and engaging in fraud during a legal motion hearing in the Eighth Judicial District Court in Las Vegas, Nv.
His disingenuous attacks came during a motion hearing in the case of Paradise Canyon, LLC, (DBA the Wolf Creek golf course) vs. the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD), Mesquite, Nv.
The two ½-year-old civil actions by Paradise Canyon against the VVWD seeks to halt the District’s restrictive pricing practices by the Virgin Valley Water Board (VVWB). Jeffrey R. Sylvester, Attorney for Paradise Canyon (Wolf Creek), argues that raising Wolf Creeks irrigation rates from $250 per share to $1,246 per share (500 %) violated the good faith and dealing provisions required by Nevada contract law. He also argues that setting a market rate requires the water board to act reasonably.
Bingham for the VVWB wants the court and eventually a Jury to believe that the VVWB has an absolute authority to set water rates.
In earlier hearings, Judge Timothy Williams pointed out that the water district is a political subdivision of the State of Nevada and had to act both in good faith and without being arbitrary and capricious. They do not have a right to do whatever they want, the Judge said.
The effluent issue
Bingham wants to avoid the arbitrary and capricious nature of pricing. So, he claims that Wolf Creek owners violated their irrigation contract by not using City managed effluent before leasing Virgin River irrigation water shares from the VVWB.
The contract with the water board requires the golf course owners to use effluent before using irrigation water. However, effluent is managed and delivered by the City, not the VVWD. According to William J. Tanner, former Mesquite Director of Public Works[i], the City is unable to provide effluent to the Golf Course 365 days a year, primarily during the summer months when the Golf Course most needs irrigation water. Tanner does say the City might be able to mix effluent with some of the 15 Virgin River water shares it holds to meet their demand.
While Bingham argued that Wolf Creek owners should have told the VVWB that they were not using effluent, Tanner says that he never notified Wolf Creek that the City had effluent available for use after 2011.[ii]
Effluent requires a fully developed infrastructure to pump that source to the golf course. That infrastructure appears incomplete. Tanner notes[iii] that he has never written a default notice to the owners of Wolf Creek while the parties deal with constructing an expensive infrastructure.
Clifford Gravett, an attorney with Bingham, Snow, and Caldwell, in a June 11, 2019 deposition,[iv] said that, while the VVWD contemplated effluent use, there was no expressed condition to do so.
Sylvester argued during the motion hearing that Bingham manufactured [effluent] breaches. This, Bingham did to scare Wolf Creek owners into returning needed irrigation water shares so the VVWB can lease the alleged excess claims to the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) for a profit.
In his deposition, Tanner says that he never issued a default notice concerning an agreement between the City and Wolf Creek on the use of effluent. He admits that the City could not guarantee effluent delivery 365 days per year, especially during the summer months. And he admits to infrastructure issues complicating the delivery of effluent to the golf course.
In his conversations with the former VVWD manager and other water district officials, even Bingham’s colleague Gravett said there was no expressed condition to using effluent in the agreements between the VVWD and Wolf Creek.
Nonetheless, Bingham claims that the the owners of Wolf Creek and their Attorneys are lying and potentially engaging in a fraud.
His uncontrollable outbursts caused Judge Timothy Williams to interrupt Bingham and asked him to clarify when the alleged “misrepresentations” of facts occurred. Bingham hemmed and hawed and spent an entire afternoon trying to explain his allegations to the Judge.
[i] William J. Tanner, former Mesquite Public Works Director, deposition April 21, 2020.
[ii] Ibid, pg. 104.
[iv] Clifford Gravett, an attorney with Bingham, Snow and Caldwell, in a June 11, 2019 deposition, pg. 297.