|MVWD Approves Agreement On Coyote Springs Pipeline|
|By Vernon Robison
Moapa Valley Progress
Published August 19, 2009
The Moapa Valley Water District (MVWD) Board of Directors approved a formal agreement, last week, to work with the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) on the transmission of water from the Coyote Springs valley, through the Moapa Valley and into Lake Mead. The agreement addresses details regarding the various roles that each water entity will play in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of this complex water delivery system.
The system includes a wells constructed at the Coyote Springs source, an arsenic treatment plant, booster stations, a dechlorination facility and fifteen miles of new pipeline. The system is expected to be completed and in operation by the Spring of next year.
The agreement was the most recent chapter in more than a decade of efforts dealing with water in the Coyote Springs basin.
In March 2002, the Nevada State Engineer issued an order that, in effect, put a hold on issuing new permits to water in the Coyote Springs basin. Fearing that issuing all of the pending permits might have an adverse affect on the surrounding aquifers (including the Muddy River system), the 2002 order put all pending Coyote Springs applications in abeyance until a five year groundwater study of the basin could be completed.
Part of that study required a two year test pump to be done in Coyote Springs. During those two years, half of all of the currently permitted water rights in the basin would be pumped in order to monitor the affect it would have on the surrounding aquifers.
The test pump would amount to 8,050 acre feet per year (afy). An acre foot is 325,851 gallons or roughly the amount needed to service one Moapa Valley family for a year. The entire MVWD system currently delivers a total of about 3,000 afy to its customers.
The SNWA was willing to do the test pump, but it needed a way to convey all of that water from the wells at Coyote Springs to the people who can currently use the water. With the nearest distribution system being that of the MVWD, it was deemed economical to reach an agreement with the local water purveyor to utilize its system.
“They need you and your distribution system to take this water down to the Lake,” attorney Bob Marshall told MVWD board members at a meeting held on Thursday, August 13. Marshall has assisted MVWD in brokering the complex deal with SNWA. “That need put you in a strong position and we hung in until we got what we wanted. This agreement is a great deal for the district,” Marshall continued.
The system will begin at a well which has been built to pump water at the Coyote Springs source. The water must then be treated to remove arsenic at a facility near the well site. As the water will run through the MVWD culinary system, the agreement mandates that it meet strict drinking water quality standards.
The water will then be pumped up out of the valley. It runs through a 24-inch pipeline for 15 miles over the hills and is finally connected into the MVWD system at the three million gallon Moapa water storage tank. There it mixes in with MVWD culinary water coming from Warm Springs.
From there, the water will run through the MVWD system down into Logandale. Because of the increased demands on the MVWD system, upgrades will be needed to an intermediate booster station to bring all of the water into the lower valley. The water is then discharged into the Bowman Reservoir after running through a dechlorination facility currently under construction in Logandale.
From the reservoir, the water will pass through the Moapa Valley Irrigation Company system of ditches and finally be discharged into Lake Mead. It can then be drawn from the Lake through SNWA intakes for use in the Las Vegas valley.
The cost of the construction of the system is $72 million. The agreement dictates that this cost be paid by the entity using the water. In the near term, at least, that would mean the SNWA. The MVWD currently has no need to use the water.
But a series of complex agreements made in recent years will allow the MVWD to access a substantial amount of the Coyote Springs water if growth in the Moapa Valley community calls for it. These agreements will, among other things, allow the MVWD to trade irrigation water holdings for culinary-quality water from Coyote Springs. This is expected to eliminate the need for MVWD to build a costly water treatment facility in the future.
MVWD General Manager Brad Huza told the board that the series of agreements would provide the MVWD with a healthy water portfolio when the time came to supply for growth in the community. “All of this gives us the potential of much more water than our current system would even allow,” Huza said. “Enough to serve a population of about 100,000 people.”
But Huza explained that the MVWD would not have to participate in the costs to build or maintain the new delivery system until such time as the water was actually needed for local use. “As long as we don’t need to take any of the water, we don’t pay,” Huza said. “All the costs are bourne by SNWA who is using all of the water.”
In addition to specifying the capital costs for the project, the agreement also divides up the responsibilities for operation and maintenance of the system. In the agreement, SNWA agrees to operate the wells and collector pipes at the Coyote Springs source as well as the nearby arsenic treatment plant. MVWD then agrees to maintain the pipeline, booster station, dechlorination system at Bowman reservoir and a metering station being built at Gubler crossing in Logandale.
According to the agreement, all of the operation and maintenance costs associated with the dechlorination facility and metering station will be paid by SNWA. All other maintenance costs on the system would be paid by either MVWD or SNWA based on how much of the Coyote Springs water they will actually use. Huza explained that, at least in the beginning, those costs would be paid entirely by SNWA. “The agreement puts the MVWD customers first,” Huza said. “Wehave been very careful to ensure that MVWD customers don’t have to bankroll this project.”
Huza explained that contingency maintenance accounts would be established and funded by SNWA to cover any maintenance on MVWD facilities that will be maximized because of the additional water flow coming from Coyote Springs.
After the presentation of the agreement, Board members asked questions dealing with problems that might arise in the future.
“What happens if the test pump ends up having a dramatic affect on the Muddy River system?” asked board member Glen Hardy.
Huza responded that there were many safeguards in place to mitigate under those circumstances. “There are something like five different trigger levels that result in some mitigation action which must be taken,” Huza said. The worst case would result in shutting down the test pump operation, Huza said. But he added that no one expects that to be necessary.
Board member James Robison raised a question regarding the system capacity. Robison anticipated that eventually the MVWD would experience enough growth that it would need to access its allotment of the Coyote Springs water. At that point, it would eventually exceed the capacity of the current delivery system, Robison observed.
“There will eventually be a day of reckoning,” Huza agreed. “At that point we will have to build another pipeline. The challenge I see is identifying when that process should begin.” Eventually, though, the parties of the agreement would have to return to the table and negotiate a new contract, Huza said.
“The good news on that is that this current agreement states that any future agreements involving sharing of funds will be based on this model,” said Bob Marshall. “And this is a very good model for the Water District.”
Robison made the motion to approve the agreement and to instruct the MVWD staff to move forward with it. The motion was approved with a unanimous vote.