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Ogden City moves closer to new water line, will consider water rate hikes to help service debt

By Rob Nielsen - | Jun 13, 2024

Standard-Examiner file photo

The Ogden City Municipal building is pictured in this undated photo.

OGDEN -- Ogden City is moving closer to the replacement of a key piece of water infrastructure.

During a special meeting Tuesday night, the Ogden City Council voted unanimously to move forward on the bonding parameters to aid in constructing a replacement for the 36-inch water line between Pineview Reservoir and the city that originally was built in 1935. The project is expected to cost around $100 million.

Director of Public Services Justin Anderson said at the meeting that the well-field that feeds the 36-inch line and its 24-inch counterpart -- built in 1915 and replaced in 2013 -- provides 70% of the city's drinking water.

City spokesperson Mike McBride noted in an email to the Standard-Examiner that the pipeline has reached the end of its expected lifespan.

"The Ogden Canyon 36" transmission line responsible for conveying most of Ogden's drinking water from Black Point Weir has passed (its) useful life expectancy and is in immediate need of being replaced," he wrote. "The line is in a poor state of repair and is estimated to be losing more than 3 million gallons of water, 9 acre-feet, each day. It is anticipated that replacement of the pipeline will result in water savings during it's expected useful lifetime that would result in filling Pineview Reservoir three times over, more than 330,000 acre feet of water. This is a once in a lifetime project and is critical to securing Ogden's water infrastructure for generations to come."

It's better, McBride added, to look at replacement sooner rather than later.

"It is important to pursue now due to the volume of water that the pipeline is losing and that the pipeline has already far exceeded (its) useful life expectancy," he said. "There are current affairs in Atlanta Georgia that show the risk aging water infrastructure can impose on a city. The need to complete this project is aligned with potential funding sources and support, it is much more efficient and prudent to do a project of this magnitude with deliberate timelines including community and state support rather than to potentially be faced with replacing it if (it) were to become an emergency repair/replacement."

However, such a large project will mean the need for rate hikes in water utility fees.

Management Services Director Lisa Stout told the Standard-Examiner on Wednesday that rate hikes will be considered soon.

"Last night, the public hearing was specifically for the council to adopt a parameters resolution allowing the city to investigate the possibility of doing financing for the water line," she said. "The fee increases that are being proposed will not be considered until this next Tuesday's meeting so there will be another public hearing on the fees."

She said the city is exploring a 4% increase in water fees over the next four years to help with costs.

"The debt the city is looking at is through the state of Utah and a federal program called WIFIA (Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act)," she said. "They're both programs to help fund water infrastructure improvements. The state financing we were able to get at a 1% interest rate. To move forward with both of those, we need to have a rate structure that will support the repayment of that debt in place before we can execute on that debt."

The Ogden City Council will decide on water rate increases during its regular meeting next Tuesday.

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