During the Planning Commission meeting on April 13 the Sanpete County zoning administrator stated that an ordinance to outlaw recreational reservoirs in Sanpete County was being prepared and needed to be put in place soon.
This appears to be in response to the water ski reservoirs being built and proposed in Indianola. I understand the long history of dealing with a few developers in Sanpete and some bad results in the past. I do not believe Sanpete County should punish all landowners in Sanpete who may desire a recreational pond by outlawing them in a fight with a few developers.
I understand there is a great deal of concern about water in the county. My own irrigation water went completely dry last year. Where our water company normally would get 3-400 acre-feet of water in a normal year, we got about 10 acre-feet last year,and it went completely dry about July 1. We had to use city water for the cattle to drink.
Three hundred acre-feet of water is enough for indoor use for 600 homes. This is only the irrigation water for 150 acres. Residents are pointing at new development as the reason that wells are drying up. It is just not so. The reason is a mega drought so bad the last one this bad was 1,200 years ago.
A lake uses about the same amount of water as an irrigated field. So replacing an irrigated field with surface water is about a wash in water consumption. Lakes may seep water into the ground, but that is not lost from the hydrologic system, and the state engineer does not make you account for it, although you cannot divert extra water above what your water right allows to make up for seepage. So, 10 acres of lake surface would require about the same water as 10 acres of irrigation, and a water rights user would be required to take 10 acres out of irrigation.
There is a lot of clamor concerning development, and Indianola has a long history of bad development. That is the past and happened because Sanpete County did not have the proper ordinances and resources to deal with the development.
Hopefully that will be corrected with the new ordinances, but in some ways, I see the proposed new ordinances being worse than what we already have.
Recreational lakes properly regulated by the state engineer will not dry up the water in Sanpete County. They will not affect it at all. Drought is another problem, but unfortunately, we cannot pass laws to fix that.
Please do not try to pass an ordinance making recreational reservoirs illegal in Sanpete County. It is a violation of property rights; it will not solve the drought or water shortage. It will not solve your problems with a few bad developers. It will hurt good developers and punish landowners by restricting their property rights. That should not be the role of a good government.