Clean water agency sinks despite win in high court

The website is down, and the office furniture is set to be sold off this week in an event being billed as an “absolute auction.”

For an agency that just won a $62 million lawsuit, the Clean Water Coalition sure doesn’t act like it.

Despite its victory in the Nevada Supreme Court on May 26, the coalition continues its steady march toward oblivion.

A vote Tuesday will decide whether to dissolve the regional entity and permanently shelve the $800 million wastewater project it was created to build.

Then comes Wednesday’s auction, at which the contents of the coalition’s Henderson office will be sold to the highest bidder. Cash only, please. Everything must go.

“It’s a melancholy day. I have mixed emotions,” said General Manager Chip Maxfield, as he stood in the near-empty office Wednesday.

The former Clark County commissioner is one of only two staff members left at an organization that once employed five full-time workers and about two dozen consultants.


The Clark County Water Reclamation District and the cities of Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas formed the coalition in 2002 to address the valley’s growing sewage problem.

As the population exploded, so did the amount of treated wastewater being dumped into Lake Mead by way of the Las Vegas Wash.

The rising tide from the valley’s sewage treatment plants caused erosion problems in the wash and water quality problems in the lake.

Coalition officials planned to tunnel through the River Mountains and pipe the valley’s effluent to an array of diffusers at the bottom of Lake Mead.

Then the economy crashed, halting growth and drying up the connection charge revenue that was expected to fund most of the work.

Amid mounting questions about the need for the pipeline and growing concern about how to pay for it, the coalition’s four-member board first voted to suspend the project in December 2009.

Three months later, state lawmakers came calling, ordering the regional entity to hand over money it had collected to build the pipeline.


The Nevada Supreme Court on May 26 declared that demand unconstitutional. The ruling turned state budget talks on their ear and left coalition board members with a decision to make about what to do with the $62 million lawmakers tried to take.

That question could be answered when the board meets at 2 p.m. Tuesday in commission chambers at the Clark County Government Center. On the agenda is a termination agreement that would dissolve the coalition and return the $62 million to the four member entities that collected it.

The county stands to receive $32 million, while Las Vegas would get about $16 million, Henderson $8 million and North Las Vegas $6 million. What happens to the money after that will be up to each jurisdiction, Maxfield said.

Coalition board member and Henderson City Councilman Steve Kirk knows what he would do with it: refund it to ratepayers.

“It certainly should go back to those who paid it,” Kirk said. “It’s money that’s owed to them. I’m sure they could use it.”

The M Resort in Henderson is one such ratepayer.

The hotel-casino triggered the state Supreme Court ruling when it sued to block the state from raiding the coalition’s coffers.

If ratepayers get back everything they paid in, the M Resort can expect a refund of about $1 million.


Some critics wonder why it has taken this long to close down the coalition, considering its signature project was put on the shelf more than a year ago.

Kirk said you can’t dissolve a complex public body by simply switching off the lights. There were contracts to complete, legal questions to answer, agreements to unwind.

As Maxfield put it: “There is no road map. We’re creating a road map for dissolving a public entity, because we couldn’t find one.”

And it’s not finished yet.

The coalition can’t be dissolved without the unanimous consent of the board. When the idea last came up on May 12, North Las Vegas City Councilman Robert Eliason voted against dissolution.

Eliason won’t say how he plans to vote this week.

Kirk said he supports disbanding the coalition because it no longer has a “clear, defined mission.”

But he hopes the cooperative spirit behind the organization will live on. “Wastewater is a regional issue. We all put our effluent into the wash. It all affects the lake,” Kirk said.

Maxfield agrees. He said the regional model has already worked well to build highways, curb floods and deliver drinking water across the valley.

The project may not be economically feasible today, but Maxfield said the wastewater pipeline or something like it will need to be built eventually.

“It might be five years. It might be 10. It might be 20,” he said.

In anticipation of that day, all the studies, plans and documents completed so far — nearly $70 million worth of work — will be boxed up and stored, most likely by the county.

Almost everything else the coalition owns is set to be sold.


Wednesday’s auction will feature everything from framed prints taken during the construction of Hoover Dam to an electronic plotter that could fetch several thousand dollars.

There are several hundred items in all, including desks, chairs, file cabinets, computers, cubicle walls, printer paper and other typical office fare.

Also on the auction block are the coalition’s safe, presumably empty; the U.S. and Nevada flags that are put up during board meetings; and the office’s break-room refrigerators and emergency defibrillators.

“Everything’s going,” said Curt Hubbard, auctioneer and owner of Grand Ole Auctions, the company handling the sale. “It’s my task to make it all go away, right down to the carpet.”

The auction is set to start at 10 a.m. and last for a few hours. Would-be bidders can preview the merchandise from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at the coalition’s office at 150 N. Stephanie St., just north of Wigwam Parkway.

Right now, the coalition has no plans to spend any money after June 30.

Maxfield said a basic budget is being drawn up just in case the entity somehow survives Tuesday’s meeting.

The member jurisdictions are no longer collecting connection charges and user fees from sewer customers, but until the board decides otherwise, the coalition is still a legal entity with control of about $65 million in public money.

“Someone has to be minding the store,” Maxfield said.

He thinks that caretaking job can be done on a part-time basis, most likely from an office at one of the coalition’s member agencies, but that too will be up to the board to decide.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at or 702-383-0350.

1 dead after shooting near Sahara and the Strip in Las Vegas
Lt. Ray Spencer briefs the news media on a shooting at Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South that left one dead. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
2 in custody after chase
Two people were in custody after a chase involving Nevada Highway Patrol and Nye County Sheriff"s office deputies ended in southwest Las Vegas. Las Vegas police blocked off Rainbow Boulevard north of Tropicana Avenue around 1 a.m. Wednesday. Law enforcement personnel prepared to tow a black sedan as part of their investigation. It's not certain what precipitated the chase or where and when it started. Check back for updates.
Police Officer's Vehicle Was Taken During Shooting
Video from body worn camera footage released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Wednesday shows an officer realizing his police vehicle has been taken during the chaos of the Route 91 shooting. It was later recovered at Sunrise hospital with the keys in the ignition and nothing removed. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
See Kitty Hawk’s flying car cruise over Lake Las Vegas
Kitty Hawk takes their flying car for a ride in the company’s hidden test facility in Lake Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Las Vegas police wild pursuit through busy Las Vegas streets
An intense chase near Downtown Las Vegas ends after gunfire is exchanged as the suspect flees on busy streets and ends up near an elementary school. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Man shot strolling through park
A man was hospitalized early Tuesday morning after being shot while walking in a central Las Vegas park. Las Vegas police say the man and a woman were in Molasky Park just after midnight when the man was shot. The pair ran to a nearby supermarket where a security guard called for help. The man was hospitalized and as of 3 a.m. was in stable condition. Police have yet to identify the shooter and no suspects are in custody.
Police investigating shooting at east valley apartment complex
No one was injured late Monday night after someone fired shots at a vehicle at an east valley apartment complex. Police responded just before midnight to the Hamptons Apartments, 3070 S. Nellis Blvd. Someone fired shots at a vehicle that was leaving the complex, and struck the vehicle. Another bullet struck a nearby apartment building. The shooter or shooters remain at-large.
Suspect fires at Las Vegas police before officers shoot, end wild pursuit
An intense chase near Downtown Las Vegas ends after gunfire is exchanged as the suspect flees on busy streets and ends up near an elementary school. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Hundreds Attend Slides, Rides and Rock and Roll in North Las Vegas
Hundreds attended the inaugural slides, rides and rock and roll event in North Las Vegas Saturday. The event featured a car show, water slide park and live music. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
It's All Rainbows At The Center's New Cafe
The Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada (The Center) introduced its new coffeeshop, Little Rainbow Cafe, in June. Rainbows are everywhere, even in the lattes and toast, and employees wear t-shirts with the quote "Be a rainbow in someone's cloud." Owner Ben Sabouri said the concept is "built around the idea of, you know, be kind and treat everybody the same." (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a Rainbow Latte at the The Center's Little Rainbow Cafe
The Center, a community center for the LGBTQ community of Southern Nevada, has a new cafe. Little Rainbow Cafe serves up a pride-inspired signature "Rainbow Latte." (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian killed trying to cross Sahara
A pedestrian was killed Friday trying to cross Sahara Avenue near Maryland Parkway about 5 a.m. A sedan struck the pedestrian while the person was outside the crosswalk between Maryland Parkway and Pardee Place, according to Las Vegas police. Police also said the driver of the sedan remained at the site of the crash. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene. This is the 75th fatal crash that Las Vegas police have investigated in 2018.
Man shot multiple times
Las Vegas police are investigating after a man was shot multiple times early Friday morning. The shooting was called in about 3:20 a.m. at the Harbor Island Apartments, 370 E. Harmon Ave., near Koval Lane. The man was hospitalized and is expected to survive, but police are still searching for the shooter.
Former Military Police Corps Officer Celebrates 100th Birthday
Summerlin resident Gene Stephens, who served as a military policeman in WWII and escorted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and President Roosevelt during the war, turned 100 on July 13, 2018. He credits his longevity to living a normal life, exercising regularly and eating three square meals a day. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Motorcyclist suffers serious injuries
A motorcycle rider was seriously injured Tuesday night after a crash on Charleston Boulevard. The crash was reported just before 10 p.m. near Durango Drive, according to Las Vegas police. The motorcyclist was hospitalized with unknown injuries but is expected to survive. Las Vegas police are investigating the cause of the accident.
CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara Has Lunch With Students
New Clark County School District superintendent Jesus Jara continued his listening tour by having lunch with students at Red Rock Elementary School as part of the district's summer lunch program. In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children under the age of 18 can find a free lunch at 104 different locations across the valley through the summer months. Jara highlighted the free program and the importance of eating healthy during his visit. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Timeline Leading Up to Scott Dozier's Execution
Scott Dozier is set to be executed by lethal injection the night of July 11 at Ely State Prison. Dozier was convicted of the April 2002 killing of 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller and was given the death penalty in Oct. 2007. In 2016 Dozier asked in a letter to District Judge Jennifer Togliatti requesting that he “be put to death.” A three-drug cocktail of midazolam, a sedative; the painkiller fentanyl; and cisatracurium, a paralytic, is expected to end his life. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Program Helps Mothers Battling Addiction
Jennifer Stanert has battled drug addiction on and off for the last 21 years. It caused her to lose custody of one of her children, Alec, after she gave birth while high. A new program at Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican Hospitals aims to connect mothers like Stanert with community resources and provide case management services while still pregnant to get connected to lactation and parenting classes, group peer support and education on neonatal abstinence syndrome. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Felon caught with guns in Mandalay Bay room 3 years before Las Vegas shooting
A felon was caught with guns in a Mandalay Bay hotel room three years before the October 1st mass shooting. Six weapons were found inside Kye Aaron Dunbar’s 24th floor room in November 2014. Four were semi-automatic. One was a scoped rifle pointing toward the Strip, according to court documents. Dunbar was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for unlawful possession. The case just came to light in a lawsuit accusing Mandalay Bay of negligence in connection with the Oct. 1st shooting.
Illegal fireworks in the Las Vegas area garner complaints
Clark County received nearly 25,000 complaints over the Independence Day holiday on a new illegal fireworks site. Reports from the site led to at least 10 illegal fireworks busts across the valley overnight. As of Thursday morning, the county is still compiling the total number of citations issued.
House fire displaces 2 people
Two people were displaced after a house fire early Thursday morning. The fire, at 963 Temple Drive in east Las Vegas, was reported just after midnight, according to a battalion chief from the Clark County Fire Department. Crews from the North Las Vegas and Las Vegas fire departments also were called in to help. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
"Red White and Boom" July 4 Fireworks at the Stratosphere
Full video of the Fourth of July "Red White and Boom" fireworks show at the Stratosphere as seen from the 8th floor Elation Pool. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
July 4th fireworks at the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite
July 4th fireworks at the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite. (7-04-18) (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Crowds Enjoy Fireworks at the Stratosphere
Revelers enjoyed watching fireworks displays from the Stratosphere's 8th floor Elation pool on July 4. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian killed in Henderson
A pedestrian trying to cross St. Rose Parkway at Bermuda was hit by a vehicle on Tuesday night and later died. The crash was reported around 11:30 p.m. Las Vegas police responded initially, but handed over the investigation to Henderson police once it was determined the accident happened in their jurisdiction. Las Vegas police did respond to a report of a pedestrian being hit by a vehicle on the Strip. The person, who was hit by a BMW near Fashion Show mall, suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries.
USPS owes $3.5 million for using Vegas Statue of Liberty on stamp
The United States Postal Service has been ordered to pay $3.5 million to a sculptor after using the Las Vegas replica of the Statue of Liberty in a stamp. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Officer Brent Horlacher shoots at Jessie Murillo
Las Vegas police video of an officer-involved shooting on June 29, 2018. Officer Brent Horlacher, 28, fired a single shot at suspect Jessie Murillo. Murillo was not injured. The radio audio is of the officer who fired the gun and the body camera video is from a different officer. Radio audio excerpts are added to the video and are not the precise times the audio was spoken.
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like