Planning commissioners approve non-public water regulations
MANTI—The Sanpete Planning Commission heard a presentation from the Central Utah Public Health Department regarding proposed non-public water system rules, and discussed the status of “buffer zone” rules in Sanpete County.
During the planning commission meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 8, Nathan Selin of the Central Utah Public Health Department (CUPHD) gave an overview of the new proposed rules for non-public water systems.
Selin said the CUPHD proposed the new rules because they say that non-public water systems have been historically “under constructed,” especially when those systems begin to transition from non-public to public water systems.
According to Selin, the aim of the new rules will be to provide basic design and construction standards, to save owners money with better planning, and to protect owners through better water quality, water source protection and easing the financial burden of system transition.
The proposed rules would apply to “non-public water sources.” Selin says the CUPHD defines this as any system that serves 25 people or less and/or has less than eight connections to a single water source.
For water sources with one to three connections, the new rules would require evidence of water rights, along with a one-time test of water purity; evidence that the system can supply adequate water pressure quality; a map showing a buffer zone between the water source and pollution sources (e.g. a sewer system); and a shared source agreement if more than one owner makes use of the system.
For water sources with four to seven connections, they would have to show all of the above requirements, plus engineered drawings meeting minimum construction standards for well spring development, water storage requirements and distribution system requirements as promulgated by the Public Water System regulations.
Selin emphasized that any existing non-public water system would be grandfathered into compliance with the rules, unless and until they change their classification. Selin also stated that the CUPHD would be vigilant against subdivisions that try to dodge the rules by stating that they were not really public water systems.
In response to a question by Joe Nielson, Selin stated that the rules could be implemented no sooner than April 2017. The CUPHD has to finish its public comment period and then submit the rules to the department for a vote in April. Selin cautioned that implementation could take longer, depending on the action that the CUPHD takes at its vote.
Curtis Ludvigson stated that the CUPHD has been working on these rules for a couple of years, and he considers them to be very important. Other counties in Utah have similar rules. On the other hand, he previously was involved in a water system near Tooele that didn’t have these kinds of rules. The development had so much trouble with its water system that people decided to move away from the development altogether rather than try to fix the problems.
Sanpete County Commissioner Scott Bartholomew, who is on the committee that would be voting on the issue, asked the planning commission their opinion on the proposed rules. The commission voted to approve the proposed rules, unanimously.
The commission then took up the petition from Scott and Melissa Olsen to approve a preliminary plan for a one lot major subdivision, on their property northwest of Manti. This proposed subdivision was the subject of debate in Nov. 2016, over the condition and size of the road leading to the subdivision, and whose responsibility was it to maintain and improve the road.
The commission approved the preliminary plan.
Ludvigson, saying that he wanted to go on the record on this issue, said, “I think it’s time for the city, and the county, that they own these roads, and that improvements need to be made.” He said it would be “better than kicking the can down the road.”
“Nobody likes increases in taxes, but there comes a time when it needs to be done,” Ludvigson said.
Scott Olsen, referring to the proposals being made by the planning commission regarding the coordination between the county and the cities in Sanpete County on “buffer zones,” said “What the planning commission is proposing regarding buffer zones can address these issues.”
The commission also discussed the idea of placing a moratorium on future development in the area northwest of Manti, where Olsen is developing his property, and the road in question is located. A moratorium was suggested as a way to pressure on the city and county to get that road improved. According to K. Rex Brown, however, a moratorium would be immature, and the planning commission should speak to the city first about the issue. Leon Day agreed, saying that a moratorium would put “adversarial” pressure on the city that would not be helpful. Ludvigson pointed out that a moratorium would need a specific time frame, and would have to have grounds in support. Nielson said that he did not think the commission had such grounds.
The commission agreed to table the moratorium, and continue discussion with the county and the cities regarding “buffer zones.”