Coalville told its water systems must expand to handle growth |

Coalville told its water systems must expand to handle growth

Poised to double in size, city grapples with infrastructure planning

A view looking west toward the Wohali project site with Coalville in the foreground.
Courtesy of Lynn Wood

There are around 575 homes in Coalville, the city’s mayor said, and there are at least 600 more housing units that have received at least preliminary approval in the city’s development process.

Faced with the prospect of the city doubling in size, Mayor Trever Johnson asked city staffers how the municipal services would handle the influx.

The city engineer’s response was stark.

“The addition of the development’s proposed 801 connections will exceed the capacity of the (wastewater treatment plant) and the culinary water treatment facilities immediately,” a report presented at a City Council meeting states. “… Should the entirety of the proposed units be constructed over the next two years, the (wastewater treatment plant) will be overloaded at 167% of (its) current capacity.”

It is extremely unlikely that 800 units will be built in two years, Johnson said in an interview, adding that only 25 units have received final approval, and even those must overcome additional administrative steps. He said the city is acting well ahead of time to provide municipal services to support growth.

“Based on the information we’ve already been given, I’d guess that we need to have this done in the next eight to 10 years,” Johnson said, speaking of the city’s need to expand its wastewater system.

The city built a $12 million wastewater treatment plant that came online in 2014. It was designed to serve the city for 20 years, a figure based upon an estimated 2.2% growth rate.

“Coalville’s average rate of growth from 1950 to 2010 was 0.79%. It would have been very difficult to project the growth that Coalville is experiencing,” the staff report states.

After a large-scale development recently restarted its approval process with the city, Johnson asked staffers to determine how many additional homes the city’s infrastructure could support.

The Coalville Planning Commission last month heard a concept plan for the Red Hills Ranch development, which calls for 349 homes to be built south of the city. The project was largely entitled in 2001 when the so-called Parley Brown property was annexed into the city.

The developer, Ivory Development, has restarted efforts to build the project and Johnson said the majority of units appear to be approved, though there is some question about the total number.

The city’s other recent large-scale development, the Wohali golf course community, gained approval this year. It calls for 303 nightly rentals and 125 single-family homes, many of which are planned to be vacation homes.

Johnson said the staff report was not a reaction to the Wohali approval.

“Our system is capable of handling the entire Wohali project at full build-out, that’s not an issue,” he said.

Johnson said the impacts on water systems of secondary homes are different from those of residences that are inhabited year-round. That is one of the many factors he said city staffers and the City Council are discussing in determining the city’s future needs.

The growth will likely require expanding the city’s wastewater treatment plant, something Johnson said was included in the original design.

“We made it easily expandable,” he said of the treatment plant. “In fact, the vast majority of the internal workings of the building, we’re only using half of it. Basically, if we add a few clarifiers, those domes on the outside, we can then just double our capacity.”

He declined to estimate the cost of the project. He said the city was considering funding sources to pay for it, including impact fees charged on new development. Developments are required to pay for their impacts that push city systems beyond their capacity, Johnson said.

He said the city was positioning itself to grapple with future growth.

“When you expand (the wastewater treatment plant) to what we’re able to expand right now easily, we should be able to go at a current growth rate for around 30 years,” he said.

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