Springs are failing Spring City

This view of one of Spring City’s water springs, taken last year by engineering firm Jones & DeMille, shows how obstructed with roots and sediment the spring’s water pipes have become.

Springs are failing Spring City


Town’s water supply down to
fraction of previous levels


By James Tilson
Staff writer

Mar. 29, 2018


SPRING CITY—Spring City is asking, “Where has all the water gone?”

Spring City is so named because of the snowmelt-fed, mountain-sourced, delicious spring water that early settlers in the area found so desirable when they first came here.

But lately, those springs have slowed down to a bare fraction of their previous capacity.

This has led Spring City to search for an answer to why the springs have slowed down so much.

Neil Sorensen, councilman for Spring City, said the city examined the springs, put a camera into the lines to see what was in the water pipes and even tried forcing high-pressure water through the pipes.

They found tree roots and sediment blocking up the pipes, and their cleaning efforts did not appreciably change of the flow of the spring.

The city also found that at least one of the springs had “migrated.”

Earthquakes in the past had caused the springs to change location, and the spring’s collection box could no longer obtain the water.

Sorensen explained how declining water output from the springs stretched back for years: “We’ve lost so much flow over the years with the roots and sediment. I don’t think anything has been done with the springs since the early 1980s. This project’s been coming for years. We’ve tried other things. This is just maintenance we need to do.”

However, Sorensen believes the city’s water source can be restored to its old capacity.

He thinks the water is still there just waiting to come out: “When I was working for the city in the early 1980s, we had huge flows. And I don’t know where it could go. I think it is because of the blockage and the shifting.”

After examining the springs, the city approved a spring redevelopment project.

The city will put in new collection boxes, new collection lines, fill in the site with gravel and line the collection area with a sealant.

Sorensen said at the last improvement in the 1980s, they used straw as a liner: “That didn’t last long.”

The city has found at least one spring which has migrated about 10 feet downhill.

The project will also examine springs to see if they have migrated from their previous position. Sorensen thinks most of the loss of flow can be blamed on spring migration: “I really feel like that is a lot of what happened.”

Jim Phillips, Spring City’s deputy treasurer and point-man on the spring redevelopment project, affirmed the city had applied for and has been approved for funding from both Utah’s Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB) and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

The CIB loan is for $419,000 at 1 percent. The city has set a public hearing for Thursday, April 5, in conjunction with its city council meeting, for a revenue bond that will have to be issued by the city as part of accepting the CIB loan.

According to Phillips, the city just learned two weeks ago it had also been approved for its CDBG grant in the amount of $250,000.

Phillips said that since the fundings come from different sources, there will be different requirements for the city to accept the funds.

For the CDBG, Phillips explained he had to go to a training program, and there were at least two different environmental reviews.

One review by two affected Native American nations had already been sent out, and Phillips expects a reply by mid-April.

The other review is by the U.S. Forest Service.

The Forest Service archeologist will have to physically inspect the sites to see if the project will have to go outside the current spring sites.

Each of the city’s five springs is located on a .25-acre lot. Phillips said if the city has to “chase the spring” outside the lot, they will have to go back and re-evaluate. But Phillips said he did not anticipate having to do that.

Phillips said the next step will be for the engineering plans to be finished so the city can start accepting bids on the project. He anticipates the engineering to be done by the end of March.

Tyler Faddis, assistant project manager with Jones and DeMille Engineering, leads the project for the city and agrees with Phillips that the preliminary drawings will be ready for the April council meeting.

However, Faddis said the firm would have to finish the final drawings, hopefully by mid-April, before the city could accept bids on the project.

Also, before the city can select the winning bid, Faddis and the bidding contractors will have to have a mandatory pre-bid meeting to physically inspect the springs. The timing for that will depend on the melting snow. Faddis hopes that can be done by mid-May.

With all of that completed, the city hopes to actually put spades in the ground by mid-June.

Faddis confirmed he will continue on with the project as construction oversight manager. He estimates the project should be completed within three to four months.

All concerned would like the project completed in time to deal with the spike in water demand in August.

Phillips was asked whether migration of the springs might change the cost of the project.

He replied such a possibility was built into the project funding. The CIB loan is for $419,000, but the revenue bond could be for as much as $550,000. That will allow the city to respond to those circumstances without going back through the entire procedure.

Sorensen has kept his ear to the ground when it comes to this project, but he hasn’t heard any opposition from any quarter so far.

He says he’s surprised by that. Usually at least one person wants to complain about what the city does.

But not this time: “Everyone wants a drink.”