Mesquite Rotarians Get Update On Local Water Supply

VVWD General Manager Kevin Brown (right) gave a presentation to the Rotary Club of Mesquite last week. Here he is pictured with Rotary Club President Linda Gault. PHOTO BY BOBBIE GREEN/The Progress

The Rotary Club of Mesquite heard a presentation about the state of local groundwater, surface water and spring water during its noon lunch meeting held at Mesquite Public Library on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

The guest speaker at the meeting was Kevin Brown, General Manager of the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD). Using colorful charts and graphs, Brown explained the source of potable water in Mesquite. He pointed out that local water for household use comes from a deep underground aquifer called Basin 222.

This aquifer spans across small corners of three different states including Nevada, Arizona and Utah.
“Virgin Valley Water District does not rely on the Colorado River nor on Lake Mead for our water,” Brown said. “Rather the VVWD is the majority water rights holder of Basin 222.”

But the VVWD holds a much more diverse water portfolio than just a share in Basin 222, Brown explained. That portfolio includes other sources with only 52 percent of the portfolio coming from groundwater rights, 16 percent from Virgin River year-round surface water rights, 11 percent of spring water rights in the surrounding mountains and 21 percent of seasonal surface water from the Virgin River.

VVWD currently has nine wells in production and two more underway to draw water from the aquifer, Brown said.
“One of those new wells is out at the end of Oasis Blvd. behind the temporary sound barrier wall that the people have been wondering about,” said Brown.

According to Brown, arsenic level compliance and alkali (hard water) are the two biggest issues VVWD has in processing its groundwater sources. Unlike the neighboring State of Utah, there is no Mercury found in local groundwater sources. But treatment plants are needed to reduce naturally occurring arsenic levels in the water to bring it into compliance with federal regulation, he said.

“The two new wells will come online when we have enough arsenic treatment plants to accommodate treating the added water to the systen,” Brown said.

Brown talked about the high cost of building and maintaining a system that will provide water for the entire Virgin Valley communities.
“The current Virgin Valley Water District infrastructure that we already enjoy would cost a quarter of a billion dollars, if we had to replace it today,” Brown said.

He assured the members that the district has a fairly healthy repair and operations budget to keep on top of maintenance and keep the water flowing to local homes.

Brown emphasized that the Virgin Valley communities are not facing a shortage of water any time soon. “The 2020 VVWD conservation master plan, based on the current water levels and rate of population growth, project that our groundwater rights will keep us supplied up through 2034,” Brown said. “That means that, after that time, we cannot drill anymore new wells. But we can continue to use the old wells.”

To fuel new growth at that point, the district would have to look at building facilities to treat its river water rights, Brown said.

Brown said that the district has a water conservation plan in place and that conservation measures are already taking place in the community.
“Now a large area of water usage goes to landscaping,” Brown said. “We are looking at ways to conserve this usage. We will be asking the community to help us do this.”

The Nevada State Engineer approved the district’s groundwater plan and levels just a couple of month ago, and there is no sign that the aquifer is being depleted, Brown said. “We have had groundwater monitoring stations all over the area and we are constantly monitoring our water levels,” he added. “We haven’t seen any significant drop in water levels.”

At the end of the presentation, Rotary Club President Linda Gault thanked Brown for speaking and

sharing information with the Club members.