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Park City Spends Another $11-Million on Water Projects

The Park City Council recently approved spending more than $11-million for water quality projects - mandated by state and federal requirements. And while that's a lot of money - it's much less than the city thought it would have to spend. Leslie Thatcher has more.

With as much as 40-percent of the city’s drinking water coming from two mine sources – the Judge and Spiro tunnels - Park City must meet the state’s water quality standards in order to continue using these sources. Under a stipulated compliance order or SCO, the state is mandating that the city treat the water  for both human consumption and stream flows.

Park City Public Utilities Director Clint McAffee says  the city is obliged to meet those standards by 2033.

“The water coming out of those mines is  high in metals.  Currently the Judge is not being used. Spiro is being partially treated  at the Spiro water treatment plant for drinking water. The bulk is being discharged into McCloud Creek. So, these  projects are really focused on not only improving water quality but getting the  Judge back into the drinking water system and also improving stream quality.”

All of the improvements are being funded by city taxpayers through increased water rates and the result is a huge cost savings– about $30-million.

 “ The current order requires full treatment of Judge and Spiro Tunnel by 2033. The amended order really focuses on alleviating some of the financial burden with treating Spiro Tunnel and the result is we’ll end up with a treatment plant that will be about 1/3 as large as it would be under the current SCO. So, the amended SCO – while not sacrificing drinking water quality or stream water quality – is greatly reducing the financial burden on the rate payers.”


After two years of negotiation, McAffee says the city was able to renegotiate the SCO.

"We’re going to focus on the worst water quality in Spiro Tunnel and progressively  treat additional amounts over time while measuring the impacts on the creek.  Rather than just taking  the black and white, you know, ‘You shall comply with this discharge permit,’ we’ve convinced the state through hard data that we can achieve significant improvements by just starting the worst quality in Spiro Tunnel and then we’ll monitor the impacts over time.”

There is a provision in the agreement to renegotiate the agreement in 2033 if the city isn’t compliant with terms.

The city has been working on water quality improvements since 2012 when it began building the Judge tunnel pipeline which pipes water from the mine tunnel in Empire Canyon across the hillside to the Spiro treatment plant. In addition, the city has rebuilt its Park Meadows’ well and upgraded the Quinn’s Treatment plant.