Sewer district puts expansion plans on hold |

Sewer district puts expansion plans on hold

Zach Murdock, Record Intern

The Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District will not be expanding its waste water reclamation facilities this year because of negative effects of the recession on Park City growth.

The District was planning on beginning construction on its two waste water reclamation facilities this year to provide higher capacity to meet projected population increases and new environmental regulations, General Manager Mike Luers said. The two projects would total approximately $45 million in construction to expand the East Canyon and Silver Creek water reclamation facilities and was to be funded by new growth through impact fees.

"Since new growth is at a very low level, the money to expand the facilities just isn’t there, however, neither is the demand" Luers said.

Since the beginning of the recession in 2007, the number of construction and development projects has dropped dramatically.

The District tracks the number of new connections sold each year as residential equivalents, RE’s, each of which is equivalent to one, three bedroom house. Just from 2006 to 2007, the District saw a 33 percent drop in new RE’s, and the number has continued to decline.

According to Luers, The District uses a growth model to determine future projections for water reclamation demand. The number of RE’s sold in 2009 was 40 units lower than projected, and to date, 2010 has only seen 30 units sold, of a projected 161.

"2009 was slow, 2010 is slow and it’ll continue to be slow over the next couple of years," Luers said. "But then we will need to expand our water reclamation facilities as the demand picks back up."

Because of the lack of new construction projects in the Park City and Snyderville Basin area, the District has reduced the number of employees that serve as inspectors for new construction. Several operations and maintenance positions have either been eliminated or not filled as well.

"The number of projects has certainly gone down," Luers said. "There’s very little activity taking place at this time."

Despite the lag in new construction and development, Luers said there are still a couple of large projects, mainly in the Canyons area and along U.S. 40, that are in the planning and engineering phases and that the expansion to the District’s two reclamation facilities is simply on hold until demand picks up.

"We have a pretty good feel for what is taking place now," Luers said. "And, we have made projections for what to expect in the near future as well as the long term."