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September 21, 2014

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North Las Vegas sues county over Sloan Channel effluent discharge

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City of North Las Vegas

Treated water from the North Las Vegas water reclamation facility flows into Sloan Channel on June 9, 2011.

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Treated water from the North Las Vegas water reclamation facility flows into Sloan Channel on June 9, 2011.

The City of North Las Vegas sued Clark County on Thursday in a dispute over whether the city's new $300 million water reclamation plant can discharge effluent into the open Sloan Channel leading to Lake Mead.

The lawsuit asks the federal court in Las Vegas to allow the plant to discharge treated water to the flood channel. The plant treats sewage, but the lawsuit says most effluent discharged from the plant will be "surplus effluent" – clean water that is otherwise not re-used.

The plant can’t operate without discharging effluent into the channel since that’s the only outlet for the effluent.

The suit was filed after Clark County threatened to file its own lawsuit to block discharges into the channel.

The Clark County Commission is required by federal and state law to provide "area wide management and planning for all activities related to water quality and water pollution in Southern Nevada," the lawsuit notes.

Critics on the Clark County Commission say the city should have built a pipeline to carry the effluent to Lake Mead as the open, concrete Sloan Channel is used by hikers, bikers and skateboarders who won’t want to be exposed to the effluent.

The lawsuit, however, says the Clark County Commission has twice approved amendments to a federally-mandated regional plan that "specifically addressed" the city’s "proposed effluent discharge into Sloan Channel."

"An actual and justiciable controversy presently exists between the City of North Las Vegas and Clark County that, without declaratory relief, will cause harm to the city as evidenced by Clark County’s recent public statements that it would seek legal action against the city to stop the release of effluent water from the Water Reclamation Facility into Sloan Channel," the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also names the U.S. Air Force as a defendant, as Nellis Air Force Base provided an easement to the city for the plant and resolution of the lawsuit will affect the base’s rights, the lawsuit says.

The City of North Las Vegas is represented in the lawsuit by attorneys with the law firm Snell & Wilmer LLP.

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  1. This plant should have never been built. There has been a study done and the plant is not needed. The only reason NLV wants this plant to operate so badly is they charged thier tax payers for it already and the base had agreed to use the plant exclusivly. Clark county has however been doing the base sewage and it will hit their pocket book if the city takes over. So they will not let the city use the county owned pipe to take services away they now provide.

    Its another example of poor legislative planning costing tax payers millions of dollars.

  2. Clever move on the part of North Las Vegas' lawyers, beating the County's lawyers to the court house and all-the-while dumping the "clean" treated sewage effluent into the Sloan storm channel.

    Also clever on the part of North Las Vegas' lawyers was running off to U.S. District Court, where it will be very, very hard for Clark County to get a temporary restraining order let alone an injunction against North Las Vegas dumping the treated sewage water into the channel...because it's always harder to get injunctive relief in Federal court than in state court.

    Also well done, by North Las Vegas lawyers, is the Complaint itself, which puts jurisdiction over the case squarely in the Federal court, because it seeks a declaratory judgment about "who is right" under the Federal Clean Water Act, and because the Department of Defense is the landlord to both North Las Vegas sewer plant and to the County whose storm channel runs through an easement on Nellis Air Bases.

    Respectfully, Clark County's lawyers got outfoxed in the filing of this lawsuit, if they were in fact headed to the 8th District Court of Nevada to get an injunction to stop North Las Vegas from treated sewer water from being flushed into the channel.

    I'm on Clark County's side on this issue, from a public safety point of view, and if I were either of the two County Commissioners who have been most vocal on this issue, I would be darn mad at the County's in-house lawyers for letting Snell & Wilmer, North Las Vegas' outside lawyers headquartered in Phoenix, outmaneuver them.

  3. City of North Las Vegas and their lawyers did an amazing job with their strategy. Shame on Clark County for falling asleep at the wheel.

    Treated water effluent is perfectly safe, it is NOT a public safety concern. On any other day, kids don't reach into a gutter and drink the water, so get real. Treated water is actually safer that is "released" and flows into waterways.

    As an affected resident, who lives and works next to this WWTP Project, I and others in the neighboring streets, would like the City of North Las Vegas and Clark County, to amend and readdress the proposed land use and landscaping plan, so the bare dirt and littered chain link fence around this project will not continue to adversely affect how visitors and others perceive our area neighborhoods, and this also affects, whether you folks own it or not, our home values. Would YOU live next to a waste water treatment plant? MOST of us were NOT given a choice about this, due to inadequate neighborhood advertisement and contact and low meeting turn outs. This project was carefully politically maneuvered down our throats. Those holding an office or military position got theirs on this, but the very people who have to live in the area upon which this project is built, got zero, but heartache, grief, and lower status and property values....and project dust!

  4. Drive down East Carey Avenue, east of Nellis Blvd., and see all the blight, litter, LACK OF LANDSCAPE here, whereas there is a project on Desert Inn and Rainbow Blvd., that has proper landscaping and looks appropriate. We are discriminated against, in part because of the high density housing (renters), and Section 8 (Welfare renters), and the lack of adequate public advertisement to actual homeowners/landowners/business owners for the PUBLIC HEARINGS!!!

    There needs to be a readdressing of the land use and landscaping plans. The property owners in this area are hit hard by this plant's presence.

    The property owners have not benefited at all, and have ONLY LOST. If the City of Las Vegas,Does 1-all don't make it right with the neighbors, they will face a class action law suit over this. They have systematically wronged the neighboring property owners of this waste water treatment plant by not giving us a true landscaping plan (straw people were on the committee originally); open meeting laws/announcements were questionable; and there is NO trade off in value for loss of value. Citizens should still have rights, it seems that the big government agencies bullied their way in this deal.