Monday, July 25, 2005

Water? (from the 1999 archives)

Water, Water Everywhere???

Is anyone else concerned with the source of water to be used by all of the new growth in the Heber Valley? We hear a lot of talk about water rights, water shares, Special Service Districts, and millions of acre feet for this, that and the other. I have a simple question: who is responsible to insure that water is available for me to pump in my well?

It seems fairly obvious that there is a limit to the supply of water in our valley. Our water currently must come from underground aquifers or from lakes, ponds and reservoir. Most of Jordanelle and Deer Creek water has apparently been allocated elsewhere by the ubiquitous CUP.

We therefore seem to be limited basically to that which we can pump from the ground. That water can only come from three places: precipitation, runoff or recycling. Precipitation is obviously rain and snow, runoff is the result of the snowpack and recycling occurs through septic, sewers, irrigation, watering, etc.
Ten years ago, it was difficult to get a building permit. The avowed reason - there wasn't enough water. Now it seems we have created an almost unlimited supply. We are building more and more sewer systems which take water from the local areas and pipe it somewhere for recycling. That water then returns to the aquifer. Is that the same aquifer that MY well pumps from? I have no idea. I fail to see how sewers can INCREASE the available water supply.

Effluent does not flow uphill. These new sewer systems allow greater housing density
Not too long ago there was an irrigation ditch which had water flowing in it most of the summer. With the diversion of water by the new CUP system that seems to have dried up. We are converting irrigation water into home usage. Does that decrease the recycling effect? We had an irrigation system pressurized by gravity, now we are converting to a system requiring electric pumps for distribution. Is this progreess?

Heber City is building a large reservoir which must be filled by pumping from this
underground supply. Will this affect the water level? I have to think that it must. Does anyone know the quantity of our underground water? Where does Heber City obtain their water rights?

Wasatch County recently allocated millions of acre feet to the Jordanelle SSD. Won't all of the new construction in the County need that water? Is there anyone in this county in charge of protecting the water rights of the current valley residents? Are new developments required to insure that proper amounts of additional water will be available to use in those new homes? How much water is, or should be, allotted to each proposed residential unit?

There is a new Planning/Zoning proposal to all "Clustered Development" in RA zones.
This will greatly increase the allowable building density. (County Commission to vote on 13 December!) This seems to violate the rural agricultural setting that the 1973? Master? Plan? was supposed to protect. Is there any such thing as a master Water Plan? Do we hear anything about water conservation? Are we emphasizing low water usage building and landscaping concepts?

These are just a few questions about an item that should concern everyone in this valley. Water is not an unlimited resource, no matter how many sewer lines we build. The overriding question is: In ten years and after hundreds (or thousands) of new homes will you and I be able to turn on our taps and get water from our wells or will we be required to hook up to a public water system (at our expense, of course) which will provide me water from an Alaskan pipeline?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Back when I regularly attended the CUP meetings I was aware that Heber City had been offered an allocation of CUP/Jordanelle water, this being, I assume, an enticement to getting the citizens of Wastach County to dummy up and partipate in being taxed by the CUP for some very dubious benefits. (The final result of which is to lose their irrigation, gravity flow, rights for a much reduced allocation of more expensive to use water). The last I knew this allocation of CUP water was turned down by Heber City (duh!) and reallocated to Wasatch County- I guess to be apportioned in some manner to the highest "undertable bidder" or something- I have never seen an official table of where-or why-this water would go. [Oh, by the way, the last time I knew of our having anyone on board to look out for the county interests on water it was one "Mike Davis" who was hired to do so- so I guess we have been well protected ever since-right?]

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