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Ephraim council considers

short and long-term strategies

for handling water shortages

 

By James Tilson

Staff writer

Feb. 15, 2018

 

EPHRAIM—Water was on the minds of the Ephraim City Council during their recent meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

While considering whether to approve a new water utility hookup for a non-city address, the Ephraim City Council discussed its long-range water policies and the imminent water shortages that may be caused by this winter’s inclement weather.

Bryan Kimball, the city’s director of economic development, presented Cori Larsen’s application to the council last week to hook into the city water system at a property located to the south and east of city limits.

Kimball told the council that the Utilities Board had approved the application, and the city staff also recommended the council to approve the application, but the staff had “mixed emotions,” voicing their concern that “allowing outside connections will create issues down the road.”

Chad Parry, public works director for Ephraim, told the council, “The issue is the cost of future infrastructure and who pays for them.” He went on to say that developments approved under county regulations do not match city ordinances, and getting developments to retrofit to match city requirements for annexation is a huge headache.

Ephraim City Councilman John Scott, echoing Parry’s concerns, said he worried about setting a precedent for the future if they granted city services to those living outside city limits. Scott noted that neighbors near Larsen would likely want connections to city water, and the city would have little leverage to require new infrastructure with those applications.

Richard Squire, Ephraim’s mayor, said those issues were “an issue of future policy” which deserved consideration but could not really be decided at this particular council meeting.

Kimball noted that the Utilities Board and the city staff favored the application because it presented a good opportunity to improve the existing infrastructure. The application approval was conditioned on the applicant installing a fire hydrant on his property and granting easements for a water line to turn a dead end into a loop.

The council agreed to continue reviewing the application and bring it back before the council at its next meeting.

Kimball gave an update on the snow pack on the Wasatch Plateau. He said it is at 42 percent of its average for this time of year. While a couple of months of possible snow weather remain this year, he commented that if the weather patterns do not change, “this could be a very bad summer.”

The council immediately asked Kimball on the progress of the new culinary well and whether it could be online this summer. Kimball answered, “Maybe.”

Funding for the well is still pending, and the city is looking for more and different funding sources at the same time.

“We are taking a shotgun approach,” he told the council, indicating the city would be sending applications to as many different agencies as might be favorable to their needs.

Currently, the city has an application submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which would be the most favorable funding alternative.

However, any funding from them would have to await the approval of a budget by the federal government. Kimball also listed the U.S.D.A., Utah’s Division of Drinking Water and Community Development Block Grant as possibilities.

Squire asked Kimball if the city should wait on funding or use city money now to get started, and Scott asked if using city money would affect the potential to receive outside funding.

Kimball answered that starting the project with city money would decrease chances of future federal funding, as any funding would only consider the state of an application at the time it was granted and not take into account any monies previously spent.