Guest Editorial | ParkRecord.com

Guest Editorial

Submitted by Stuart Knowles, director, Summit Water Distribution Company

As a shareholder and member of the board of directors of Summit Water Distribution Company, I read with great interest the article titled "Next days critical for creek treatment-plant expansion could help save fish in East Canyon" in The Park Record on July 18, 2007. Summit Water is concerned about water flow in East Canyon Creek and ensuring the health of the stream both for its fisheries and as a critical source of water for the Snyderville Basin.

The residents of Park City need to act to protect this valuable resource and community asset. Over the past decade, flows in East Canyon Creek have declined and new growth places unreasonable demands on this important resource. There is simply no reason that public demand cannot coexist with wise stream management. Specifically, the public must pressure the Utah State Engineer to enforce the priority of water rights and not allow users at the "top" of the system to capture all of the water that should be flowing in East Canyon Creek. Water rights in the state of Utah are governed by a priority system and when priority cuts are made on the Weber River, junior appropriators are required by law to stop diverting water. Sadly, the State Engineer has thus far failed to adequately enforce priority cuts and East Canyon Creek has suffered as a result.

Park City residents should contact Jerry Olds, the Utah State Engineer at (801) 538-7240 or jerryolds@utah.gov and demand he enforce these rights. Water users must ensure they only use water in accordance with the rights they hold. Capturing water, solely based on physical location does a disservice to the basin-wide water shortage and East Canyon Creek.

Lastly, the Water Reclamation District should proceed with its expansion plans. Although the expansion will not provide any additional water flows in East Canyon Creek, the enhanced treatment plant will result in higher quality effluent being discharged into East Canyon Creek. This type of immediate action and long-range planning is critical if the Snyderville Basin is going to effectively manage expected future demand.

Summit Water and its shareholders are taking steps to protect East Canyon Creek and we encourage others to do the same. East Canyon Creek is a valuable resource, both because it is a critical water supply for the basin and because of the aesthetic beauty it offers. putting pressure on the State Engineer to effectively enforce priority cuts and conserving when possible, East Canyon Creek can be protected.

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