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Explosive growth demands two pipes

By Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

The population in Park City and the Snyderville Basin is expected to double in the next 25 years and two major pipelines will be needed to import water for the area’s nearly 50,000 residents, a draft report from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation states.

After studying western Summit County for more than a year to determine how best to meet the needs of projected growth, the Bureau of Reclamation could release a report this month that supports construction of pipelines from Rockport Reservoir near Wanship and East Canyon Reservoir north of Jeremy Ranch.

According to the bureau, the West Side needs almost 22,000 acre-feet of water to meet the demand through 2050. Reusing irrigation water and conservation could offset a small portion of that amount but most of the supply must be imported.

“We’ve tried to be objective and fair,” said Bruce Barrett, area manager for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Provo office. “If everyone’s willing to look at the big picture, I think (the study) should make everybody feel good.”

Summit Water Distribution Company, a private company in the Basin, fiercely competes for customers with Summit County’s Mountain Regional Water Special Service District. Summit Water has tried for years to build its East Canyon pipeline, which has been stalled in the permitting process.

Meanwhile, Summit County constructed part of its Lost Creek Canyon pipeline from Peoa to Promontory last year, which bureau officials will recommend be expanded into Park City, Barrett said, adding, “the need is immediate.”

“Eventually, over time, all water groups are going to have to cooperatively try to get things figured out,” Park City Mayor Dana Williams said. “Eventually, Summit Water and Mountain Regional are just going to have to learn how to play well together.”

Knowing a critical share of the city’s water supply would eventually be imported through Snyderville, Williams said Park City pushed Congress to commission the Bureau of Reclamation study “trying to come up with a non-partisan, 30,000-foot view of water in the Basin.”

“I’m not hearing anything I didn’t expect,” the mayor said Tuesday about the tentative recommendation.

With the capacity to pump another 5,000 acre-feet out of Rockport, the completion of Mountain Regional’s pipeline makes the most sense in the short term, Barrett said, adding that the smaller pipeline can be finished more quickly than Summit Water’s project.

“Our emphasis has been on the Rockport pipeline because we own water in it,” Williams said, adding that Park City owns nearly 3,000 acre-feet in Smith and Morehouse reservoir in the Uinta Mountains.

But all of the Rockport water could be allocated by 2010, said Steve Noyes, a Bureau of Reclamation team leader overseeing the project.

“Both projects are going to be needed probably as early as 2010,” he said, adding that Park City and Mountain Regional officials currently claim to have no excess capacity.

Bureau officials say Summit Water’s East Canyon pipeline could import nearly 13,000 more acre-feet.

“There’s been some competition between the two main suppliers up there so the expectation is that we’re going to go out and tell them which (pipeline) is best,” Noyes said. “I think the competition’s still there but we hope that the projections in the study clearly show that both (pipelines) are needed.”

Representatives from Summit Water, who were provided copies of the report last week, dispute the bureau’s cost estimates of constructing the East Canyon pipeline. “We do have some questions with respect to the numbers,” Summit Water general manager Van Martin said.

However, Martin commended the bureau for removing politics from the race to construct a pipeline in Summit County.

“It gives everybody a chance to have a much better understanding from an outside perspective,” Martin said.


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