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Mt. Pleasant looking for water source east of city

Mt. Pleasant looking for water source east of city

 

James Tilson

7/20/2017

Staff writer

 

PLEASANT — The Mt. Pleasant City council has agreed to concentrate its efforts at finding a new water source east of the city and to hire local water expert Bill Sorensen to consult on its efforts.

Engineer Robert Worley of Sunrise Engineering reported to the council July 11 at a special work meeting convened solely for the water issue. The council has been grappling with how to deal with its looming water shortage for nearly three years and wanted to have a special meeting to concentrate its attention.

Contaminated water

The water issue first reared its head in 2014, when the Utah Division of Drinking Water found that one of Mt. Pleasant’s three non-well water sources, Sneak Springs, was contaminated by surface water.

As a result, Mt. Pleasant could only use 200 gal/min of the 500 gal/min output of the spring. The city authorized a study by Sunrise Engineering to determine how to treat the spring water, and estimate how much water the city would need in the future.

In March 2016, Robert Worley of Sunrise reported to Mt. Pleasant the findings from the study. Of the various options given to the city, Sunrise recommended that the city pursue treatment of Sneak Springs and explore drilling one or two additional wells to provide enough water for the projected growth of the city.

A month later, Worley reported that the USDA Rural Development (RD) agency would be the best option for funding the project, but that the city should consider expanding the project in order to meet the funding requirements from USDA.

The city’s relatively cheap water rates made it ineligible for other programs and constrained any possible application with RD.

Environmental study

Worley came back in Sept. 2016 to report that a water site study was nearly complete, and a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) and Environmental Assessment (EA) had been begun. The well site study would provide the city with Sunrise’s estimation of the best locations for a new well. The council approved the study and agreed to have Worley contract for test-drill bids.

In May, Worley came before the council to report that the bids for test-well drilling had come in much higher than he expected, “almost double.”  He said that the bids were local and that all of the drillers were likely very busy this time of year. The council, feeling that they should take the time to look for better options, authorized Worley to seek bids state-wide and report back in a month.

In June, Worley reported that he had gotten six bids from drillers state-wide and their bids averaged between $110,000 and $120,000. He told the council that the bids were so high because the best sites for test drilling were “up canyon” on the east side of the city. Test wells in those areas would have to go down at least 650 feet.

Concern over delays

Worley told the council he was concerned that with any further delay the EA would not be completed before the snow began falling and the EA and PER both needed to be completed before they could start the application process with the RD. Citing the concerns over the location of a new well, as well as the time constraints they faced, the council agreed to a special work meeting at the earliest time available.

At the special work meeting, Worley reported that he had explored locations on the west side of Mt. Pleasant. He said that locations there would be a “challenge.”

The property owners there would likely charge a higher price for access to the land for a well. Those locations also meant that source protection would be a problem, due to the presence of septic tanks and cattle farms.

Councilman Kevin Stallings confirmed those concerns, saying he had spoken to Bill Sorenson, a local water expert. Sorenson told Stallings that he shared the concerns about access and source protection for wells on the west side of town. He also told Stallings that any well there would be more expensive to access, since it would have to be pumped and piped to the other side of Mt. Pleasant.

Sorenson told Stallings that the east side of town has better sites for a potential well, due to the presence of water flowing down from the mountains underneath the ground. Worley also agreed with that assessment, saying that the hydrogeologist had so indicated on his studies for Sunrise.

At the end of the meeting, the council decided that it needed to make a decision as soon as possible, and that drilling a test well was looking to be cost prohibitive.

The council directed Stallings to contact Sorenson again within the week to look at the recommended sites on the east side of town to see which Sorenson thought were best. Meanwhile, Worley would work to finish the EA and PER as soon as possible to begin the application process with the RD.