Summit County Water Concurrency Hearing
Summit County residents will have an opportunity to attend a public hearing to discuss and comment on the Health Department’s proposed updates to the current Water Concurrency Ordinance on Monday Nov. 3, at 4 p.m. at the Summit County Health Department, 650 Round Valley Drive.
The hearing will address water concurrency, which makes sure there is actual water available, not just paper water rights, when water letters are provided and water is sold. The document will govern water concurrency in the Snyderville Basin in Western Summit County. Concurrency doesn’t necessarily focus on water quality as much as it addresses the issue of water quantity and availability.
The proposed ordinance is not new, but proposes major language adjustments to the current ordinance to allow water companies to report to the Health Department every other year instead of yearly.
"It saves the water companies money which in turn saves the consumer money," Summit County Health Officer Richard Bullough said.
Water companies claim there is a significant cost to reporting yearly that is somewhere in the ballpark of $30,000, Bullough said. But if the companies are concurrent and in good standing, they shouldn’t have to report yearly, he added.
"The key for us, is if there is a water company that is not concurrent it is important to have language on the books that allows us to find them not concurrent. Otherwise there is no incentive for them to bring more water online or to purchase water from another company," he said.
The current ordinance was adopted in the 1990s, during a time of major residential and commercial growth in the area, to address water shortages. But, Bullough said, Board of Health members felt that the old ordinance wasn’t clear enough.
"This is, in essence, cleaning up the language," Bullough said. "While it’s probably less urgent now, I think moving forward, concurrency is going to be very important and the county may see water shortfalls in the future.
"The important message is that there is a process in place to make sure that the shortfalls that occurred in the 90s don’t occur again," he said.
Bullough said there is a perception that water shortages are not as much of a concern as they once were but advised residents to keep in mind that "we live in a high desert and it’s foolish to think we can keep pulling water from aquifers."
"It is not such a concern as it was, but the potential is there, for Snyderville in particular, to not have water," Bullough said.
At the hearing, Summit County residents will have an opportunity to provide input, suggestions and even critiques on the proposed ordinance, which is posted online at http://www.summitcountyhealth.org .
"I think anytime we can get the public to come to our board meetings it just gives the public a chance to see more of what we do and understand the process," Public Information Officer Katie Mullaly said. "We really do need the support of the whole community on a lot of these issues."
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