Transcript of a meeting to discuss the creation of the Las Vegas Valley Water District
hln000918. Union Pacific Railroad Collection, 1828-1995. MS-00397. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d1bg2m97d
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TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS OF SPECIAL MEETING RE LAS VEGAS VALLEY WATER DISTRICT Held under the auspices of LAS VEGAS NEVADA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Hotel Thunderbird October 1st, 1948 ATTENDANCE RECORD Chairman: Carl Hyde, Chairman Industrial Service Committee and 1st Vice President, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. James Down, Jr., President Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce C. D. Baker, Chairman of Government Service Division and Member Board of Directors Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce J. R. McQuilkin, Managing Director Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce City and County Officials Frank Gusewelle, Chairman Board of County Commissioners, Clark County Helen Scott Reed, County Clerk, Clark County Robert A. Jones, District Attorney Prospective Candidates for Water District Directorate J. Conroy Leo McNamee Nelson Conway S. L. Butterfield H. C. Nickerson John Bunch Charles Horsey, Jr., (also representing Kiwanis Club) William Coulthard Vic Shurtliff Howard Cannon Harry Miller Floyd Prowell Others A. E. Cahlan John Cahlan L. Tyson (representing Exchange Club) Clayton Titus (representing Lions Club) Al Shenkle (representing Optimist Club) A. W. Magelby Robert A. Blonde, Union Pacific Railroad representative A. W. Blackman Don Brown Reporting: Jeanne Wentworth In his opening remarks Chairman HYDE outlined the progress made in the California area in this same type of experience, pointing out the huge demands created by aircraft plants, etc. during the war and the need for supplemental water supply. MR. HYDE then outlined the history of the Las Vegas underground water supply and the limitations thereon, stressing the need for considering implementing that supply. He stated the purpose of the meeting was to clarify all questions in connection with the proposed Las Vegas Valley Water District and stated that an election would be held on October 19th to determine whether or not the water district should be created. MR. ROBERT JONES: Mr. Jones outlined the procedural steps and the status of the matter officially. He stated that it was now before the County Commissioners who had set and fixed the date for this subject to be decided by the e lectors in the District. He further stressed the importance to the public welfare and made reference to the act which made the creation of the district possible, the act briefly providing that a public water district may be created in the territory known as the Las Vegas Valley. The act further provides that the district may be created under substantially the following procedures 1. Petition presented to the Board of County Commissioners, signed by at least 5% of electors within the district. That petition has been circulated and the required number of names obtained, certified, and filed with the Board of County Commissioners. 2. Petition presented to the Board and there was no opposition. 3. In subsequent meetings of the Board of County Commissioners they have called election to determine whether or not the district should be organized. The petition is purely to ask the commissioners to call for an election as to whether the district should be created. On the date of special election voters will vote yes or not, and also will vote for Board of Directors, consisting of one from each of seven divisions into which the district will be divided. Mr. Jones stressed the importance of the entire matter. All steps are being taken, he stated, to be sure that the election is legal, because the law must be complied with in every small detail so that the bonds to be issued later will be legal. Bonding attorneys go over the proceedings very carefully, he pointed out, and if there is anything wrong legally, they will not approve the bonds. Mr. Jones stated that the public in general, as far as he could see, were very much in favor of the district. He said he had heard a little opposition to the district recently, but felt that the water system must be under one head a head that is government controlled and non-profit. "This does not mean," he stated, "that the Las Vegas Land and Water Company has not done a fine job. It is only that the community has reached a point where the (other step is necessary." The following question? were propounded to Mr. Jones and his answers thereto are reported: Q. What about bonds? A. The act provides that the district may issue bonds for the purpose of creating a water system and maintain and operate the district after it is created. It does not provide for a special tax levy, and the bonds will be revenue bonds and will be repayable from the revenue of the district. The act provides that the expense of organizing the district may be paid by special tax levy, but to date there has been no such expense and no tax levy is deemed necessary, and as far as the public is concerned, it is now pretty certain that if this district is created there will be no additional taxes. Q. One of the first things the public will want to know is how will it affect the rate of service for water? A. I don't think it can be answered in figures, but I think they can be assured that this organization can operate as economically as a private company, if not more so, and there is no reason to believe that the rates would be higher. It is quite possible that the U. S. Army, to get the necessary water to the air field, would bear some of the expense of helping in the development. Q. Is it proposed to buy out the Las Vegas Land and Water Company? A. That will be decided by the Directors when they are elected. There is talk of so doing, but no definite decision can be made until the Board of Directors is chosen. Q. Are the facilities of the Las Vegas Land and Water Company assessed on the tax rolls? A. Yes. Q. Will the district, when organized, be a municipal corporation? A. It is a public corporation. Q. I bring this up because of the recent Supreme Court decision holding municipal corporation funds taxable. A. Well, if the district has to pay tax, it would come out of the public pocket through rates. Q. Has it been determined how the directors will be voted on ? within the division, or at large? A. At large. Q. Will the water district take over all the water rights of all present holders? A. No, it won't take away any water rights from any individual or company. It will only get such rights by buying them or taking by condemnation, in which case there will be full compensation. Q. Will the city of North Las Vegas be included? A. They are within the district. Their water system could not be taken away unless the Board of Directors of this district sits down with them and offers to buy the system and furnish them water. Only thing we are doing is to bring the water supply and distribution in the entire area under one head. Mr. Jones, who had a jury trial on calendar, asked to be excused, there being no further questions for him. The chairman then called upon MR. C. D. BAKER, who introduced a map showing the confines of the entire district, as well as the individual divisions. MR. BAKER stressed the fact that there had been some rumors that the act authorizing the creation of the district had been rushed through; that this was not true and that a great deal of thought had been, put into it. "In setting up the seven divisions," he stated, "it was attempted to divide them approximately according to population. The water supply goes both within and without of the city limits and the franchise of the Las Vegas Land and Water Company does not extend beyond the city limits and in view of expansion outside of these limits, it was necessary to include portions beyond the city limits in designating the districts." Mr. Baker then pointed out on the map the areas comprising the seven individual divisions, as follows: DIVISION 1: Vegas Heights, North Las Vegas. DIVISION 2: Everything west of Union Pacific Railroad out to golf course. DIVISION 3: Downtown area, Railroad out to 11th and north to cemetery. DIVISION 4: West of 11th and out to city limits to Euclid Avenue. DIVISION 5: Area between Fremont and Garces and Main and 6th. DIVISION 6: Paradise area and extending to a point approximately 3 miles below new County Airport. DIVISION Henderson, Whitney and Pittman Mr. Baker also explained that the attempt had been made to keep these divisions grouped according to voting precincts so as not to disturb the mechanics of voting in this special election. "These divisions ', he stated, "are in cooperation and approved by the County Commissioners to disturb as little as possible the precinct boundaries. The following questions and answers were propounded to and answered by MR. BAKER: Q. Is there any proposed route of the line? A. Nothing has been done from an engineering standpoint and the general outline has been 40-inch line with the pumping facilities that exist at Las Vegas Bay, extending to Henderson. The pumping lift will be necessary in between Las Vegas and Henderson. Generally, the line would come in from present reservoir at Henderson, which may have to be expanded, towards Las Vegas, to a point around Four Mile and then branch off at one line to another to supplement the supply at the Army Airfield and to augment the supply in and around Las Vegas. Another line would fit into the city system and another line extend south to the resort district. Q. What are the proposed limits on use? A. Rates would have to be sot up. If you will remember 10 or 12 years ago the price for irrigational use was too high for agricultural use alone. So there were two alternate studies made. In view of the impending developments at Henderson and the potential demand of the four applicants for locations out there, it appears that about all that will be available to Las Vegas to augment present supply will be abort 6 to 10 million gallons a day. There will not be much available for agricultural expansion at the outset. That will probably have to cone from ground water resources that will be released as a result of this development. Q. Who owns facilities now at Henderson? A. All those wore acquired by the state of Nevada with the Basic Magnesium deal. Q. What percentage of Nevada's allotted water in the lake will this absorb? A. Probably not over 25 to 30%. Q. Then there are possibilities of getting additional water for irrigation? A. Either that or by using this and pumping from ground water resources ? this is a problem which the Colorado River Commission has before it. Q. That might affect votes ? if they can get water for irrigation. A. An emergency exists now beyond any reasonable doubt -? with the present population of the valley an auxiliary supply must be established if we are to going to have any increase in population at all. Q. Have you ever found out what percentage of Nevada's allocated water this line will carry? A. As I remember, about one-third. C. In other words, to get all of Nevada's water into the Valley, you would have to build another pipeline as large as that which you have now? A. That's right. There were no farther questions to be propounded to Mr. Baker. The Chairman called on MR. A. E. CAHLAN, Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, a member of the Colorado River Commission and a person close to this question from its very inception. MR. CAHLAN: "I wonder if the people of this community realize the importance of this project and I sometimes don't think that they do. I don't know how many of you have read the discussion in the Los Angeles papers regarding bringing water from the Columbia River to the Los Angeles area. That sounds fantastic, but sooner or later it will have to be done if Los Angeles is to go ahead and develop. "That is a far cry from Las Vegas and yet illustrative of the problem with which we have been faced. I don't think we have conceived the possibility of the expansion of the BMI plant. The only break that could occur in plans is the amount of power Nevada is able to get from the facilities of Boulder and Davis Dams. It has been impossible for the Colorado River Commission to advise the public what is going on at that plant, because these big outfits don't like premature publicity ? they want to make their own announcements at a time that suits their needs. The problem we are trying to resolve it into is to bring the largest number of people into the area per kilowatt of power available. "Yesterday, out of a clear blue sky, a letter came to Mr. Mueller from a very large West Coast outfit that wanted to talk in terms of four units at the plant, 1100 houses, additional railroad track facilities, additional acreage outside of the plant. There are two or three similar outfits which will also bring development to other sections of the state. **Dupont is in very good standing and news may break on that at almost any time. Bearing on this subject is that the major portion of development and growth will be in Las Vegas. They are not particularly interested in housing their families near the plant. There is a very definite possibility that any new housing development in connection with that plant will be built in Las Vegas and not in Henderson. That means you have to solve the problem of water supply. "The matter was discussed with the Union Pacific as to whether they were willing to take expense of bringing that water in from Henderson and their answer was 'No'. So there is no alternative other than the one brought up here today. That is the answer to every question that has been asked, no matter what the cost. The railroad company has done a magnificent job, but they are not interested in expanding the water supply beyond the present one. "I don't offer this as a proposition, because it has not been discussed in the Colorado River Commission formally, but it is my opinion that if this district goes ahead, all of the water facilities of the BMI plant would be turned over to the district to operate. "This is a must ??????????????????????????? not a question of whether we want to do it. We have to do it. Sooner or later we are bound to reach the end of the artesian water resources and we have to be prepared for it. "As the result of the war, you have laid in your laps the water and pipe line and mechanism to do the job, and we have to get to the people of the community the importance of the job. We have to get the people out to vote. The only danger about the whole thing is that the people who are against something are always the ones that get out and vote. You want to be careful not to get a light vote in favor of the reject." MR. HYDE expressed his gratitude to MR. CAHLAN for excellent remarks on the importance of this matter. MR. HYDE then introduced those candidates for election who were present. MR. HYDE then concluded his portion of the program with a story about Mr. Mulholland, who had spent his life in the interest of the water supply program in the Los Angelas area and when, in the final stages, he was faced with a great deal of opposition, his reply on the occasion of an important meeting when he was scheduled as main speaker, was simply "' don't think there is anything left to be said, it has all been said. The only remark I would like to leave in parting is simply that it doesn't make much difference whether this vote goes through and the water district is carried or not ? for if it isn't none of us will have to worry, we won't need it." The meeting was then turned over to a general round table discussion, with the emphasis being placed on the importance of turning all forces to the job of educating the people in connection with this program and assuring a large vote at the special election. MR. CAHLAN pledged the full support and cooperation of the Review Journal and all of the representatives of service clubs present volunteered to exert every effort to secure the full cooperation of their respective clubs. Further suggestions were made for methods of reaching the general public who did not belong to service clubs. A large mass meeting was proposed, but the feeling was that it would not bring out a large enough crowd to make it effective. A round table radio program along the lines of the present meeting was suggested and it was agreed that was the best possible source of reaching the largest number, outside of the newspaper. The meeting adjourned with everyone in attendance pledging full cooperation in getting this matter before the people prior to the election date.