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Water Board Usurps Court With Threatening Motion

Virgin District Water Board Members.

Mesquite, NV. On August 4, the Virgin Valley Water Board (VVWB) voted unanimously to declare the Lease between the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) and Paradise Canyon (dba Wolf Creek Golf Course) null and void as of May 31.  The water board gave the owners of Paradise Canyon 30-days to enter a new lease and answer a range of other issues currently pending in judicial actions against them.

Two years ago, on May 15, 2018, Paradise Canyon attorneys filed a civil suit (A-18-774539-B) against the water district seeking to halt their “restrictive” water pricing practices.

Historically, the water district provided irrigation water for Wolf Creek at the agreed-upon price of $250 per share. They want to raise it 500 % to $1,246 per share.

On March 22, 2019, Paradise Canyon sent correspondence to VVWD to exercise its perpetual right of renewal of its historical Lease. Kyle Hughes, a VVWD employee, accepted this lease renewal and issued a receipt for the $38,750 rental payment.

Later, by letter dated April 1, 2019, VVWD’s General Manager Kevin Brown accepted the perpetual lease renewal but demanded an additional rental payment of $55,907.85. On November 19, 2019, Paradise Canyon paid the protested amount, thus continuing the Lease through May 31, 2020.

Paradise Canyon acted to move the Lease forward from June 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021.  Historically the water board set lease rates in March of each. This year they waited until April 21, 2020, during a global pandemic to set the annual rental rate.

Nonetheless, on April 30, 2020, Paradise Canyon’s General Manager appeared at VVWD’s offices and delivered a notice of renewal and payment of $172,928.85 and was issued a receipt.

On May 6, 2020, VVWD sent correspondence to Paradise Canyon advising that since its payment was late, the VVWD Board intended to hold a public hearing to allow Paradise Canyon the opportunity to explain its delay. The counsel for Paradise Canyon provided written justification for the alleged delay and, after that, attended a public meeting.

In the meantime, on May 28, attorneys for Paradise Canyon filed several motions for summary judgments in their case against the VVWD. If granted a summary judgment would avoid a jury trial and save time and costs. [i]

During the first public meeting, Paradise Canyon’s counsel acknowledged the Board’s position and offered a compromise that the Board keeps a protested amount of $172,928.85 and argue the forfeiture issue in court. Instead, the water board continued to press for a lease forfeiture with a not too subtle threat that they intended to cut off irrigation water to the Wolf Creek golf course.  They held the check and scheduled another public meeting for August 4, 20210.

On July 30, to counter the potential water cut-off threat, attorneys for Paradise Canyon asked the judge in the case to issue a restraining order (injunctive relief).

Before the second public meeting set for Aug 4th, the attorneys for both parties agreed that Paradise Canyon would receive a 30-day notice to act on any board action. As well,  Paradise Canyon attorneys retain the right to reignite its restraining order.

At the August 4 meeting, members of the water board argued that Paradise Canyon owners did not call or write them a letter saying they wanted to renew their water lease beyond the May date.  Therefore, to them, the Lease is null and void. And, in the motion, they demanded that Paradise canyon take effluent from the city to irrigate their golf course. And they demanded a return 35 shares of irrigation water the board claims are unused on the golf course. And they demanded that the owners of Wolf Creek prove beneficial to use of those waters.

All those issues: effluent, beneficial used, shares used, perpetual use, and of course, pricing is in court as part of the civil action and are subjects in the May 28 motions by Paradise Canyon attorneys for summary judgments.

Endnote:

[i] Hearings on the motions are scheduled between Sept. 30 and October 2nd. Unless the Judge renders summary judgements a jury trial is scheduled for February 22, 2021.

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About Author

Michael McGreer Mesquite, Nevada
Dr. Michael Manford McGreer is managing editor of Nevada-today.com and writes on issues that impact public policy.

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