Lake Las Vegas -- dry?

The owners of the bankrupt Lake Las Vegas development have expressed worry in court that a break in a pipeline underneath the lake could drain it, sinking the community's financial future.

In a statement filed in the development's Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, Lake Las Vegas President Frederick Chin said two 7-foot conduits that carry storm and treated wastewater under the lake are in need of repair and that -- without those repairs -- the development's centerpiece 320-acre artificial lake could drain away.

"Such an outcome," he wrote, "would be disastrous for the project, because it would be virtually impossible to obtain the amount of water necessary to re-fill the lake, and the project would lose a considerable amount of its appeal were it built around a dry lake bed."

The lake's 3 billion gallons of water came from Henderson's allotment from Lake Mead -- to which it would flow back, if it were ever drained.

Henderson Public Works Director Robert Murnane on Tuesday agreed a pipeline rupture would drain the lake into Lake Mead and that it would undoubtedly diminish the value of multimillion-dollar homes, resort hotels and golf courses.

But the need for drainage line repairs and maintenance is no surprise, Mr. Murnane noted. The drainage pipes require maintenance work every 10 years, and the development company signed an agreement in 1989 assuming those responsibilities.

Lake Las Vegas spokeswoman Sandra Sternberg estimated the repairs will cost $3 million and will start as soon as bankruptcy Judge Linda Riegle approves $127 million in post-bankruptcy financing, possibly at a hearing Monday.

The city of Henderson promoted and set considerable store by this project. Taxpayers there can vote to undertake some responsibility for lake maintenance if they believe it benefits their community, and if it turns out officials there neglected to require sufficient bonding to cover any deferred or defaulted maintenance.

But this might be an appropriate time for both Clark County and the city of Henderson to firmly declare their taxpayers and ratepayers have no dog in this fight: that they bear no obligation to step in with any financial assistance in this matter, and never will.