EDEN — Summit’s controversial well on top of Powder Mountain will soon have a companion. Hidden Lake, meet Bloomington.

“The Bloomington Well, that’s what they’re calling it,” said Mike Drake, regional engineer over the Weber River and West Desert area for Utah’s Division of Water Rights, “It’s close to the first well they drilled.”

The division granted approval to drill the Bloomington in July 2015, Drake said, with several mitigating conditions attached, one involving a study of its effect on the aquifer.

“That study — conducted by the Utah Geological Survey — is underway and prior to diverting any water, it will have to be completed,” Drake said.

Summit, the eclectic collective that bought Powder Mountain in 2013, acquired the rights to 400 acre feet of water with that purchase. And according to the Division of Water Rights, the group can drill five wells in addition to its Hidden Lake Well that caused such a stir among property owners and water companies lower on the mountain.

RELATED: Water capacity on Powder Mountain in question

“The application was approved for a total of six wells. One is built and pumping, and they’re currently in process on the second,” Drake said. But Drake emphasized the importance of two conditions that require determination of how much water Summit’s wells divert from Cache Valley’s hydrologic system and identifying appropriate compensation mechanisms to replace that water.

The wells are approved for municipal purposes, which includes irrigation and inside domestic use. Drake said Divison records indicated work on the Bloomington beginning on Aug. 8 with a projected completion date of Nov. 8.

“They won’t be able to divert water until we get the study done, and we’ll probably deal with that study through the winter,” Drake said.

More than just a well?

According to Summit representatives, the second well is part of a much broader vision than simply delivering water to mountaintop homes.

“We are developing an innovation zone on Summit Powder Mountain to pilot a number of next-generation technologies,” said Emma Post, communications director for Summit Powder Mountain.

Summit will team with state agencies, universities and industry to develop these new technologies, Post added, with plans to pilot programs related to water conservation, waste-water treatment, green building (including pre-fab), highly-efficient vertical farming and autonomous vehicles.

“The new well is in the proposed innovation zone, and we expect our innovation zone implementation to eventually allow us to use 25 percent of the expected State usage of 800 gallons per day,” Post said.

Summit Mountain Holding Group LLC has already signed memorandums of understanding  with the University of Utah, Utah State University and Weber State University to team together on various aspects of the innovation zone.

In its Jan. 27 agreement with the University of Utah, Summit states that it “desires to build a resilient and sustainable mountain community as part of the development and expansion of the Powder Mountain Ski Resort.” That non-binding document lists several “Smart Community” goals that include efficient building, maximization of local alternative energy sources, development of a net positive water system and more.

Andrew Buffmire, Technology Ambassador for the U of U’s VP for Research Office, spoke of their eagerness to continue working with Summit to develop Utah-based technologies that support sustainable communities.

"As a long-term collaborator with Summit Powder Mountain in the research and development of leading edge Smart and Resilient Community Technologies, the University is pleased to see the actual implementation of new conservation innovations as part of this shared vision,” Buffmire said by email.

The MOU with Weber State University, signed June 26, aims to initiate dialogue regarding key development challenges related to design, development and operation of advanced sustainable and intelligent living communities. Weber State’s role will include research related to water use and agriculture. 

The MOU with Utah State University, signed July 19, notes USU’s expertise in agriculture, energy, water management, engineering, and K-12 education. Together USU and Summit intend to identify, explore and implement collaborative efforts, projects and grants that advance missions of both entities.

By email, Todd Johnson — practitioner in residence and associate professor in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at USU — described Powder Mountain as a “full-scale model and living laboratory to discover more meaningful patterns of living.”

"In the teaching and research settings of our University, we look for organizations with unique values and high-minded goals to challenge us,” Johnson said. 

According to the agreements, Summit has engaged with ReGen Villages, a new kind of real estate start-up that promotes development of resilient and self-reliant neighborhoods across the globe.

ReGen stands for regenerative, and in a Sept. 16, 2016 Business Insider article, ReGen Founder James Erlich defined regenerative as systems “where the output of one system can actually be the input of another.”

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

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