Break-in at reservoir forces painful loss of 20 million gallons of water

Southern Nevada homeowners who get scolded for over-soaking their sod will cringe at this news.

But a Las Vegas Valley Water District official says the decision this week to drain 20 million gallons from the new Levi reservoir in the northwest was absolutely necessary.

That’s right: 20 million gallons.

At four gallons per flush, that’s 5 million flushes.

The worst news is, the water won’t return to the system via a sewer drain. It is headed down a flood-control channel.

As construction of the reservoir neared completion, it was filled with water and tested for leaks. But when someone broke into the reservoir’s hatch and took a safety net, officials started to investigate. At one point, a Metro officer who acts as a liaison to the Department of Homeland Security was called in to inspect.

“Because the hatch had been opened, we couldn’t take any chance of introducing that water into the supply,” district spokesman J.C. Davis says. “We don’t have any reason to believe that anybody put anything into that reservoir, but frankly, we’re practicing safety first.”

Sounds prudent, but why not have the water analyzed by experts?

“We can test the water, but there’s so many different compounds you would have to look for,” Davis said. “We don’t like losing the water either, but we couldn’t take a chance. Conservation is important, but the fact is public health comes first.”

LEWIS CASE: The silly gun case against comic icon Jerry Lewis is set for dismissal today in Justice Court with an assist from his attorney, Ross Goodman, informed sources say.

I can’t wait to hear what the King of Comedy has to say about it. It could be very funny.

JAZZ KIDS: The next time you’re feeling skeptical about the young people of this community, take time to check out the impeccable musical ability of students from Las Vegas Academy under the leadership of instructor Patrick Bowen.

How good are these kids?

For starters, Jazz Combo Prime is a remarkable quartet that last year won the Downbeat magazine award for combos in the performing arts category. The group features Kyle Henry on tenor sax, Steven Van Betten on guitar, Eric Andrews on bass and Austin Pooley on drums.

Meanwhile, the academy’s 24-piece big band is scheduled to make an appearance at this weekend’s 51st annual Monterey Jazz Festival as part of the Next Generation program. It’s the first time a Nevada band has been so honored.

JAZZ MAN: After surviving a stroke earlier this year, keyboardist Dick Fazio returns to his favorite Friday night jazz haunt, Pogo’s Tavern on Decatur Boulevard. It’s an amazing comeback for the leader of the band.

Owner Bill Stypowany also announced Pogo’s is becoming an official Buffalo Bills bar. The sound you hear is the tavern’s previous owner, “Gentleman” Jim Holcombe, rolling over in his grave. Jim was an Oakland Raiders fan.

CANNON BIOGRAPHY: The late U.S. Sen. Howard Cannon was undoubtedly one of Nevada’s most successful and most understated elected officials. A new biography from the University of Nevada Press, “Senator Howard Cannon of Nevada” by Michael Vernetti, tells the intriguing story. It’s due out in October.

ON THE BOULEVARD: If local Italian food aficionados seem a little lost these days, the closure of Fellini’s on West Charleston Boulevard might be the reason. The popular restaurant has relocated inside the Suncoast under the name Salvatore’s Italian Steakhouse. … Don’t forget the Greek Food Festival this weekend at St. John the Baptist Church at 5300 South El Camino Road.

BOULEVARD II: Don’t look for any Sports Bettors for McCain rallies soon. Local players remain leery of the GOP presidential hopeful’s previous attempt to ban college sports betting at Nevada books. … The Sahara continues to make its move as a resident-friendly casino by donating $5,000 to the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation from an event showcasing its new Locals Lane gambling area.

BOULEVARD III: Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama drew more than 11,000 for a speech at Cashman Field on Wednesday. With that kind of following, if Obama could throw a fastball, Las Vegas 51s General Manager Don Logan would have offered him a contract.

The Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday announced their unwise decision to end their eight-year association with Las Vegas and have decided to return to Albuquerque, N.M. So much for the good sense of having your top minor-league team a short flight from the big-league team’s home turf.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? E-mail comments and contributions to or call (702) 383-0295.

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