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Water rates for Parkites could increase

Park City water rates could jump 24 percent starting in July as growth forces City Hall to speed construction of a pipeline from Rockport reservoir.

"It’s being moved up on the schedule because of water use," Park City Water Manager Kathy Lundborg said. "In the last two years, there has been a lot of growth and our peak water use is driven by outdoor irrigation."

The steep rate increase is poised for approval by the City Council in June to fund the roughly $14 million pipeline.

"You plan for the worst and hope for the best," she said. "It’s getting to the point where we’re paying for what the water costs."

Officials ended a study this year that determined "that in a dry year, Park City has water supply shortfalls," according to Lundborg.

"This is not a health and safety need. It’s people using a lot of water for outdoor irrigation," she said. "Last summer, we declared a Stage 1 drought and we did not see conservation We saw water usage go up."

With the Rockport pipeline, Parkites could access about 2,500 acre-feet the city paid to reserve in Smith and Morehouse reservoir about a decade ago.

But funding its construction could increase water rates for Parkites by 50 percent in the next four years, Lundborg warned.

"I hate to say these are exactly what the rate increases are going to be," she said. "It’s so driven by demand, and people’s habits and the growth."

But avoiding a significant rate hike now "would mean stopping all growth and everybody in town would have to conserve right around 40 percent to be able to dig out of the deficit that we’re in," Lundborg said.

City Hall was counting on money from Congress to fund much of the pipeline’s construction, she added.

"We were all hopeful that appropriations were going to be more generous," Lundborg lamented. "We found out pretty quickly that it was going to be in much smaller chunks because the war is definitely impacting it."

Congress passed the Water Resource Development Act in 2007. The bill authorized $30 million in federal funding for the pipeline.

So Marsac Building officials agreed to deliver the water through an expanded version of Summit County’s existing Lost Creek Canyon Pipeline.

The city will also need to collect impact fees from developers to complete the project, Park City Public Works Director Jerry Gibbs said.

"We’re hoping, within two years, we will have water delivered into town," Lundborg said, adding that the existing pipeline must be extended to Park City from Promontory.

But the new water will not adequately supply Park City as it continues to grow, she stressed.

"We’re going to need even more water at the ultimate build out," Lundborg said. "The rate increase is driven by bonding requirements that we have to meet to be able to borrow to be able to build our project."

The owners of vacation homes use much of Park City’s water to keep their grass green, she said.

"There is an issue with second homeowners that hire a service to take care of their yard and then never manage it," Lundborg said. "Or the time is set for every other day and that’s the way it stays for the whole season."


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