After reading last week’s lead article about the Boulder City Wastewater Pipeline proposal, I knew that it was incumbent upon me to defend both my support for the proposal as the city’s representative on the Southern Nevada Water Authority board and my honor. This proposal is an opportunity to divert over one million gallons a day (peak flow) of our wastewater (effluent) back to Lake Mead at no expense to Boulder City and was recommended by the Integrated Resource Planning Advisory Committee on which we, as a city, also have representation.
First, the facts. Boulder City’s wastewater is currently treated once and flows into evaporation ponds. In 2019, an advisory committee recommended to the SNWA that they amend their major construction and capital plan to spend $26 million to build a 12-to 24-inch diameter pipeline to carry our once-treated effluent to Henderson for additional treatment and then back into Lake Mead.
The project also included a small basin and pumping facility. The pipeline size was designed to accommodate Boulder City’s peak wastewater flow and would not provide additional capacity for future development in the Eldorado Valley.
Yes, some of this water has been sold over the last three and a half years for solar panel cleaning and dust abatement but we have still allowed almost 500 million gallons to evaporate in the desert over that same amount of time. I am surprised that anyone would think that this type of conservation is something that would need to be “forced” upon our city. It is a local solution to a diminishing source of water that supports our residents’ water supply and our tourism industry.
Now, in support of my honor, over a year ago the voters in Boulder City determined that as a woman with a business background, Ph.D. in marketing, MBA in finance, qualified to teach executive MBAs, and five years on the board at Emergency Aid of Boulder City (as grant coordinator and treasurer) that I would serve our city well as a member of the City Council. It was an honor to be elected and it is a privilege to be of service to Boulder City.
Now that I have served for over a year, there have been numerous occasions in which the mayor has publicly demonstrated his lack of respect for me with interruptions and raised voices during council meetings. I have avoided public confrontation with him in order to maintain civility during these meetings. It is understood that there will be issues upon which we disagree, that is to be expected. It is hoped that this will be done respectfully.
However, this lack of respect now appears in print and it is time to address this head on. Mayor (Kiernan) McManus claims that I “showed a lack of awareness and knowledge” in regard “to important local issues” which “may also be a factor in such unwanted changes being forced upon the residents of Boulder City.”
The fact is that I am aware of and have knowledge of local issues. I strongly support our controlled growth ordinance and am aware of the real and perceived threats to our open spaces that have led our mayor and many others to fear that there are those who would like to turn the Eldorado Valley into real estate development. For example, the gateway project study conducted supporting development at the interchange of Interstate 11 and U.S. Highway 95, a request for a land swap to build homes near Cascata, proposed development of 640 acres of unincorporated Clark County in the Eldorado Valley, the at-the-time unexplained redundant pipeline to the solar fields, and the request, addressed in the above-mentioned article by Henderson to annex land in the Eldorado Valley.
I also recall the item on the ballot to remove the limits to development options per year (30) from the controlled growth ordinance, which I assisted in writing the piece opposing it.
In closing, as you can see, some fear is justifiable. It drives us to make survival decisions. However, it can also keep us from making those decisions that are the best for us. I think that it is important to remember that we have to address the issues with facts and rational decision making. We must accept the fact that we are a separate sovereign entity with wide-open spaces that we treasure and wish to conserve and that we are also part of a planet, a country, a state, a region and a city that depends upon our water resources in order to survive.
My job on the City Council and SNWA Board of Directors is to focus on solutions that best serve our own residents and our world as a whole. That is what this is all about. The fact is we need to conserve our water and accept solutions that best address the sustainability of our future.
Claudia Bridges was elected to City Council in June of 2019. She is a retired university professor and has lived in Boulder City for eight years with her husband. She can be reached at email@example.com.