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Water authority presents water conservation options to Boulder City council

Updated March 15, 2023 - 7:45 pm

The Boulder City Council received a presentation Tuesday from the Southern Nevada Water Authority that outlined options for the city to decrease its consumptive use of water.

Southern Nevada Water Authority Deputy General Manager of Engineering Doa Ross said 100 percent of Boulder City’s water use is labeled “consumptive,” meaning it cannot be reused.

“Every gallon we deliver to Boulder City never goes back to the river, so every gallon is a gallon permanently lost to the river,” Ross said about the city’s current water use.

The water authority presented four options to the council – three plans and a possible addition to two of those plans – for the city to recycle its water to reduce consumptive use and possibly earn return flow credits for water treated and returned to Lake Mead.

The first plan presented would see Boulder City construct a pipeline to send wastewater to Henderson for treatment and return to the lake; the second would expand Boulder City’s treatment facility so wastewater could be treated and directly used in city’s golf courses; and the third plan would treat and return water to the lake through an artificial “recharge well.”

The fourth option presented was the possibility that Henderson’s future developments in Eldorado Valley could possibly pay Boulder City to send their wastewater to be treated under plans one or three.

The water authority will conduct a feasibility study to determine the likely success of each option presented, which Ross said should take “several months” to complete. Once finished, the water authority will present the results to the council and they will decide which option Boulder City will go with.

The city was able to pick one or two plans for the water authority to study from the options presented, Ross said in the presentation.

Ross said the best plan for Boulder City was the third option. Recharge wells are used around the world to recharge aquifers. In this case, the well would recharge Lake Mead.

“Just from the point of what I consider Boulder City’s concerns to be, I think (option three) is probably the most ideal, but again, we’ll work with any of them,” Ross said.

The council chose for the authority to look into plans two and three, with the possibility for the fourth option to be added onto plan three. All council members expressed support for the third plan, but they chose for multiple plans to be studied to explore multiple options.

Several residents voiced concerns with the options given by the water authority, especially the option to send water to Henderson for treatment, and supported a proposal from local business owner Milo Hurst during the public comment period. Hurst proposed using runoff water in Eldorado Valley for desert farming.

When members selected the plans to be studied, they added a condition that a public workshop on the issue also be held.

In other actions, council:

▶ Approved $70,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funding previously budgeted for PPE and COVID-19 vaccines to be reallocated to the Boulder City Museum and Historical Association with two members of council abstaining from voting.

▶ Council voted to extend expiring airport grounds leases for six months to renegotiate a deal between the city and current tenants seeking to renew their leases.

▶ In a special meeting on Wednesday, March 8, council heard from the heads of all city departments regarding budget projections for fiscal year 2024. This was the first step in a process that will unfold over multiple months. In terms of increased costs, presentations focused on labor costs (including a stated desire by some council members to raise the minimum wage for part-time city employees to more closely match private sector wages in the area in order to increase employee retention) and expected sharp increases in energy costs.

Contact Mark Credico at mcredico@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCredicoII.

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