Summit has right to water purchased with land

Tuesday , May 12, 2015 - 11:30 AM

Contributed to the Standard-Examiner

Editor,

Water. It’s the source of life for the planet, for the American West. It’s deeply important to us all, and here in Utah that’s no different. Long-time neighbors naturally worry how new neighbors will use water, and if that use will hurt other water users. That’s why we at Summit Powder Mountain, the new neighbors, have worked hard to be transparent about our water use and to preserve the water rights of others here in the Ogden Valley.

We plan to live here and be good neighbors for the long haul. We expect and welcome conversation about how we can create our community on the mountain as responsibly as possible.

So we are concerned about some leaflets and public comments suggesting Summit has done something wrong in exercising our water rights. That is simply not the case – we have been meticulous in following the letter and spirit of all of the required steps established by law to perfect our water rights; beyond what is required, we have worked hard to provide a far more transparent and rigorous explanation of our actions than is common.

Like every landowner, we bought land, and with that land came water rights. In our case, we had rights to 19 well and spring locations on the mountain as well as other rights. We received these rights because an exchange application had been approved by the state in 2006, well before we moved here. Before drilling any wells, we hired the best Utah water experts we could find. We hired them because of their reputation for fairness, honesty and scientific rigor. We hired them to help us develop the right plan. We chose to share the data we collected with some of our neighbors and with the lawyer and consultant who are now handling the majority of the protest work. We did that because the data showed that there would be no interference and we wanted to protect our neighbors from unnecessary cost on an unneeded dispute.

After sharing that information, we submitted the plan to the state as required. The practical effect of our request is a very minor modification to the rights we received when we bought the land – effectively moving an approved well site on the mountain a short distance to the Hidden Lake parking lot.

As part of our plan, we will be voluntarily relinquishing rights to a number of the potential well sites that were approved prior to our purchase. Additionally, in this process, we have submitted to extraordinary and unusually stringent testing protocols to prove that the Hidden Lake Well will have no adverse effect on existing users. This included a two-week pump test of over 3,000,000 gallons when the norm is a one-day pump test. That test showed that there was no interference with other water users – and this is not just our opinion, as the Standard Examiner reported, the Utah Geological Survey found that “there was no statistically significant impact on the springs and streams during Summit’s test.” http://www.standard.net/Environment/2015/02/15/Utah-Geological-Survey-offers-preliminary-interpretation-of-Summit-pump-test-data.html The final step in the process is the analysis of the data by the Utah State Engineer – that process is well underway and should be allowed to conclude on its own terms.

Like our neighbors, we need water and have a right to the water we purchased with our land. Neither our experts nor the Utah Geological Survey’s experts have seen any evidence of interference from our Hidden Lake well. We remain committed to a neighborly resolution of all concerns, and look forward to many years of living together in this community.

Paul Strange

Eden

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