County’s water report under fire
July 26, 2006
The five largest water providers in the Snyderville Basin are "in pretty good shape" for keeping thirsts quenched for the foreseeable future, the county’s water concurrency officer declared.
"We’re not going to run out of water until we run out of money," said Pinebrook resident David Hedderly-Smith, an independent contractor who monitors for Summit County whether companies in Snyderville have enough water.
The county’s water concurrency ordinance requires water providers on the West Side prove each year to the government that ample supply exists for customers and new growth.
Summit County’s Mountain Regional Water Special Service District, Summit Water Distribution Company, Gorgoza Mutual Water Company and smaller providers in Silver Creek and Highland Estates recently received clean bills of health, Hedderly-Smith said.
"Gorgoza is always a little bit tight," he said, adding that High Valley Water Company, which serves homeowners in Highland Estates, is "maxed out."
Speaking about concurrency ratings for the two largest water providers in Snyderville, Hedderly-Smith said Mountain Regional and Summit Water each "have got a whole lot of water."
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"Those are two really good companies," he said.
Mountain Regional currently serves about 3,395 customers, Hedderly-Smith said, adding that, the private Summit Water Distribution Company has 3,177 customers.
"They’re fighting for the same market," he said about the two competitors.
With a system capacity of 4,362 gallons per minute, Mountain Regional can provide water to 1,426 additional connections, Hedderly-Smith said.
But attorneys for Summit Water Distribution Co. have attacked Mountain Regional’s concurrency rating in court.
They claim county officials are illegally diverting water from the Weber River into Mountain Regional’s wells in Peoa.
"In water, it’s always about doing it right, you don’t ever want it to come back to you," said John Flitton, an attorney for Summit Water Distribution Co. "They apparently were not getting enough water from those wells, so they decided, well, we’ll just breach the channel."
The Utah Division of Water Rights is investigating whether Mountain Regional officials broke the law in altering the stream.
"No matter how the engineer wants to couch it, they don’t have approval for diversions out of the river," Flitton said.
Mountain Regional Water General Manager Andy Armstrong insists the county has broken no laws.
"[The state] expressed concerns that they had from a permitting standpoint," Armstrong told the Summit County Commission. "The ball was in their court, in that, we have given them some correspondence."
State officials started investigating the county before Summit Water sued Mountain Regional June 30, Armstrong added.
According to Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer, Summit Water has challenged the water concurrency ratings "each and every year."
Last month’s lawsuit asks Third District Court Judge Bruce Lubeck to determine that because of the alleged illegal diversion, Mountain Regional’s 2006 concurrency rating is a sham.
An attorney for Summit County was not immediately available for comment.
"The county is trying to protect the public with this ordinance and they should be held to the same standards as everyone else," Flitton said. "The whole purpose is to not put people at risk and to not put their substantial investments at risk."
Meanwhile, Summit Water could serve an additional 1,968 connections, Hedderly-Smith said.
With capacity to provide 4,425 gallons per minute, Summit Water’s supply is the largest in the county.
But when the concurrency ordinance was adopted about four years ago, county officials claimed Summit Water had only 50 connections, Flitton said.
"The county imposed this concurrency ordinance on us and we have fought it," he added during a recent telephone interview. "I still don’t like [the concurrency ordinance] but we’ve learned to live with it because it was meant to protect the public."
Ratings for other Basin water providers in 2006 included:
Gorgoza Mutual Water Company system capacity: 1,438 gallons per minute; 41 available connections
High Valley Water Company system capacity: 201 gallons per minute; 0 available connections
Service Area No. 3 in Silver Creek system capacity: 344 gallons per minute; 240 available connections