Las Vegas Sun

September 1, 2014

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Water research center at UNLV gets OK

Creating a UNLV center for advanced water research won approval of $3.8 million in contracts by the state Board of Examiners on Tuesday.

Economic Development Director Steve Hill told the board there were few experts in this field and center could create jobs, market its research and bring business to Nevada.

Greg Bortolin, director of communications at the Desert Research Institute, said Las Vegas was a “perfect place” for this water-starved state. “Water is a precious resource,” he said.

To start up this center, both the DRI and the economic development agency will contribute $1.4 million, and the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation will chip in $925,000.

IBM will also be part of this project.

Hill said there is much research on water now available but IBM, with its advanced computer systems, will take it to another level.

The center would initially employ three to six people and it is expected to grow.

Hill said the research could be on such things as water pressure and water leakage.

Frank Woodbeck, director of the employment agency, said the center would train people in the basics of water skills and “create a career pathway.”

Hill said a director of the center has not been named yet but a retired water expert is being looked at.

The center would be judged on the number of trainees, the jobs it creates and the number of companies it attracts to Nevada.

In other action, the board approved a $250,598 settlement to three companies that claimed the expansion the Blue Diamond Road in Clark County blocked access to their business. A district court awarded Blue Diamond RV and Storage, Donal Series 1 and United Estates Trust $624,401 against the state Transportation Department. The three companies appealed. Transportation Director Rudy Malfabon told the board a judgment against the state could end up costing the state more. Senior Deputy Attorney General Karissa Neff said future legal fees could amount to $200,000 alone.

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