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be responsible for all the new develop- ment caused by growth and because of that, our infrastructure plan at the wholesale level was really paid for by these regional connection charges that we got as new homes and businesses got their meter installed. Tat infrastructure charge from 2000 to 2006 had doubled the revenues from that. We were getting $188 million a year from that one source alone to feed into our capital plan.” Reality hit hard in 2007-2008 with the economic downturn just at the time work was needed. “We needed the infrastructure more

than ever, but we did not have the money that we [once] did to do it. So, we responded in quite a few ways,” Pellegrino said. SNWA refinanced bonds, deferred $400 million in capital projects, reduced its workforce expenditures and “heav- ily” relied upon its reserves to continue making bond payments, Pellegrino said. Te initial rate increase aimed at main- taining existing infrastructure hit a wall of opposition. “We had known we needed to raise

revenues for some time but obviously Las Vegas was so hard hit by the reces- sion that we just knew there would be no political appetite for that in 2009,

2010 and 2011,” SNWA General Manager John Entsminger told River Report. “Obviously, we waited too long; we didn’t have enough lead time to step into it and do the amount of public process and outreach that we normally would have.”

A looming spike in SNWA’s annual

debt service obligation ushered greater community outreach to address future funding requirements. An advisory group was formed. “Everything was made available

online,” Pellegrino said. “Information was shared on social media so we really maximized all of the information about ‘Hey, we’re looking at doing something

and we’re looking for your input on how we do it.’” Prefacing the effort was the stark

reality that Las Vegas could run out of water.

“Tere was a 13 percent chance that

by 2026 we would have lost 90 percent of our water supply,” Pellegrino said. “And it didn’t take that cross section of our community very long to immedi- ately make the recommendation that not being able to pump water [out of Lake Mead] below elevation 1,000 was an unacceptable risk for our community. Tere was no numbers that went into it, there was talk about facilities costs, but really what it came down to was losing

Te city of Phoenix

Winter 2015-2016 • River Report • Colorado River Project • 5

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