County Board of Health taps into water supply
May 3, 2016
After more than two hours of discussion with several representatives from major water suppliers in the Snyderville Basin, the Summit County Board of Health chose to hold off on adopting a new ordinance to govern water availability in the Basin, Promontory and eventually eastern Summit County.
Monday, nearly 30 people attended a hearing at the Summit County Health Department about the proposed ordinance, which is set to replace the current one adopted more than 15 years ago.
Water concurrency ensures there is actual water available when water letters are provided in development matters and water rights are sold. It ultimately aims to ensure a "safe and adequate drinking water supply," according to Dave Thomas, Summit County chief civil deputy attorney.
The new ordinance simplifies the current system, Thomas said.
"It doesn’t replace water concurrency. Instead, it assists in the overall goals of ensuring everyone has verifiable water sources," Thomas said. "But right now it is limited to the Basin and Promontory. There is language in here to expand it to include eastern Summit County in three years."
One of the issues board members grappled with was when a commitment-of-service letter should be required. The letters, which are an "irrevocable commitment by water suppliers of wet water to the development lot or parcel," are required before a development permit can be issued by the county.
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"Historically, they have been required when a building permit is issues, but the proposed ordinance moves that back to subdivision plat approval," Thomas told board members. "One of the pros for requiring them at the subdivision plat stage is that it guarantees water for homeowners. The current system leaves a risk and doesn’t fully protect homeowners and we have seen this in the past."
Two years ago, the Health Department charged well-known water providers with essentially creating a tool to measure what is available versus what the demand is to produce the proposed ordinance.
"This process, while a little bit painful during the development of the concurrency ordinance, I want to stat that it was a very inclusive process with all of the water companies," said Rich Bullough, Summit County Health director. "There was a lot of give and take and ultimately what occurred was a process and tool that will be used to support the ordinance."
Mountain Regional Water General Manager Andy Armstrong said he comes from an "era of non-regulation," when the water was unreliable, unsafe and inadequate. He said he believe in the concurrency process to provide accurate count of water sources.
Summit County Water Concurrency Officer Dave Hedderly-Smith said he has administered the water concurrency program since 2004. Smith said it has been effective and is "strongly needed," before giving his endorsement of the proposed ordinance.
Matt Lindon, who sits on the administrative control board for the Mountain Regional Water Special Service District, spoke in favor of the proposal as "an engineer and water guy that has been in the area for 40 years."
"We basically have one set of diminishing water sources around here or one glass with many straws in it," Lindon said. "I am very supportive of the ordinance, not as overregulation or overreach, but as a way to fill some of the gaps in our existing regulations. I believe the ordinance should be more inclusive and should include the municipalities and to include the entire county."
However, some said the new policy is too stringent and attempts to regulate a process that has been handled between water suppliers for years.
Summit Water Distribution General Manager Andy Garland said he does not support the ordinance, adding that the Health Department "should be paying more attention to the septic systems on the East Side."
"We have no problem supplying you with our water quality and quantity data," Garland said. "But one of our concerns is the weber basin agreement addresses the source and this is not being recognized in this proposal source and I’d like to hear how we are going to treat those interconnections.
"Is this is a health issue? Is this is a moral issue? Is it good enough for just the Basin or should it be something that is looked at on the East Side?" Garland asked.
Board members ultimately agreed to table the issue and revisit it during the June 6 meeting.
To view the presentation from the hearing, go to http://www.summitcountyhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Water-concurrency-Presentation.pdf . To see the proposed ordinance go to http://www.summitcountyhealth.org/2016/03/water-concurrency-ordinance-information/.
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