Powder Mountain ran low on drinking water in December

Thursday , April 30, 2015 - 12:08 PM

EDEN — Due to low water flows to the Powder Mountain Water and Sewer Improvement District, the state Division of Drinking Water recently reminded Weber County not to issue any building permits for Summit’s first phase of development until a new water source has been approved.

“It has come to the attention of the Division of Drinking Water that some lots have been transferred to new owners and building applications have been submitted to Weber County for lots in the Summit at Powder Mountain PRUD Phase 1 development. The Division requests that Weber County refrain from issuing these building permits,” said the April 22 letter from Director Kenneth Bousfield to county Planning Director Sean Wilkinson and building official Craig Browne.

That letter details Summit’s hotly contested exchange application to place its mountaintop Hidden Lake Well into operation. That April 2014 request is nearing a decision from State Engineer Kent Jones at Utah’s Division of Water Rights.

The Hidden Lake Well and its 415,000-gallon tank and distribution system still lack the required operating permits from the Division of Drinking Water, the letter said, reiterating in bold type: “The Division of Drinking Water requests that Weber County not issue any building permits for the lots . . . until the county verifies the status of the drinking water infrastructure.”

Wilkinson, who has overseen Weber County’s planning division since January 2014, said the letter did not tell him anything he did not already know.

“The county code already says the water lines and fire hydrants have to be operational before we can issue building permits,” Wilkinson said Tuesday. “But even before they sent the letter we were very well aware and we’re not issuing building permits until the water situation is addressed.”

According to Wilkinson, county planners received a “will serve” from Powder Mountain Water & Sewer District early on in the subdivision process, indicating it would provide drinking water to the new development.

However, a Jan. 8 letter from Bousfield to Evan Miller of Powder Mountain Ski Resort indicates that its sole source for drinking water was “significantly less than previously reported.”

“In previous years, an assumed flow of 70 gallons per minute for Pizzel Spring had been used in evaluating the source capacity of the system.” But monitoring of that spring between August and December 2014 showed a 25 gpm flow just as the resort’s ski season opened.

“The calculations show the system is only providing a little more than 30 percent of the required source capacity,” Bousfield’s letter said, adding that “this deficiency was validated on Dec. 23 when the system ran out of water and had to request approval for hauling in drinking water to meet their demands.”

The letter then cites Utah Administrative Code that sources are legally required to be able to meet peak water demands and provide one year’s supply of water or the average annual demand.

The code further states that water hauling may be given special approval but only in emergency situations.

In its Jan. 8 letter, Bousfield gave the Powder Mountain Water and Sewer Improvement District until Feb. 28 to respond or meet to address the source deficiency in addition to a possible storage problem as well.

That meeting occurred on Jan. 28, Bousfield said, where Powder Mountain was given an extended deadline until May 1 to consider various options, including 1) apply for an exception, 2) connect to a secondary water source, or 3) ask the Division of Drinking Water to re-evaluate its calculations. While Bousfield personally did not attend, Bob Hart and two other engineers represented the Division of Drinking Water at that session. 

“The possible exception is very unlikely,” Bousfield said, “and the possibility that the calculation was in error is also very unlikely.”

Weber County Commissioner Matthew Bell, who chairs the Powder Mountain Water & Sewer Improvement District board, requested the Jan. 28 meeting, Hart said. 

“At that meeting, we decided that the (Powder Mountain) District would evaluate their system and provide the Division feedback on its status and proposed course of action for the future,” Hart said. 

John Reeve of Ogden-based Reeve & Associates, Inc. serves as engineer for Powder Mountain Water and Sewer District and said that work on its master plan is under way but progress is slow.

“A lot of the things that have to happen with Summit and the well have to happen before we finish the master plan. All we can do is just move slowly ahead,” Reeve said.

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or cmckitrick@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.

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