With help from the state, Summit County has been able to secure the funding to establish a wastewater treatment facility in the Echo area just northwest of Coalville, and county officials hope such infrastructure will spur development in the area.
The state offered $251,000 in grants and $218,000 in loans while the county added $150,000 for a total of $619,000 to build new sewer infrastructure in Echo. The infrastructure, to begin construction this spring, will be a package plant and septic tank system, according to County Manager Bob Jasper.
The Utah Division of Water Quality (DWQ) had mandated that a sewer system be installed in Echo, since sewage had been poisoning the stream.
"The state DWQ basically said that if that area doesn't get sewer they will fine people every day or they can't flush," Jasper said. "The system was broken and going right into the stream."
With a 2010 census population of 56, Echo will not provide an adequate initial funding base so, Jasper said, the system will probably have to be subsidized. Another sewer plant at Indian Hollow in Kamas is under construction and Jasper said once there are enough customers on both systems, funding should be available.
County Council member Dave Ure said the area could prove to be a prime spot for development, and Jasper noted Echo's proximity to the railroad and position at the juncture of Interstates 80 and 84 as signs that the area could be right for a business park or even a warehousing and distribution center.
"There is a spur right off the railroad. I don't know who owns [it]," Ure said. "Either way, we have to pursue it because [we] could bring in raw materials on that spur."
Using this road right off the railroad tracks could prove to be a problem, however. Jasper said Union Pacific Railroad recently requested that the county give them $700,000 in exchange for using what they call their road, which follows the railroad tracks from Echo eastward.
Jasper said that, in the 1950s, the Utah Highway Commission gave the county that road, which is mostly unpaved, accepting it for maintenance. Union Pacific contends the road was given to the county on a 50-year lease, which has been expired for 10 years. The road is primarily used by ranchers and by the state to access a highway shed.
"We're going back and forth with the railroad. We could give them additional right-of-ways and there are some things we can do, but I'm not going to give them that kind of money," Jasper said.
Regardless, Ure said he is starting to have discussions with Echo landowners and potential industries in exploring potential avenues for growth in the area. Jasper said there are some who simply want to have Echo as a historical district.
The county is continuing its dialogue with Union Pacific and Jasper wants to ensure they reach a mutually beneficial solution.
"I hope we reach some agreement that's good for us and good for the railroad," Jasper said. "I'm not up for taking taxpayer money and using it for the railroad."