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Local News

Rising Water Rates Not Unique To Summit Water Company

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The Summit Water company’s customer base ranges from residential homeowners to a major ski resort company. General Manager Andy Garland talked to KPCW about what those rate-payers are facing these days.

In a wide-ranging interview with KPCW, Garland said they have been raising water rates. One reason is a mandate from the Western Summit Water Project, which also affects water managers like Scott Morrison at Mountain Regional and Clint McAffee at Park City Municipal.

“One of the things, y’know, I’ve been with Summit Water for four-and-a-half years,” Garland continued. “And just looking at our obligations, we’ve had to go out and look at, what are the things we need to do. I think Clint mentioned it, a week or so ago. Or maybe it was Scott that—part of the Weber Basin Agreement is that we’re all going to have to start re-paying that money starting in 2020. So, Summit Water will have to start paying $500,000 a year for 20 years as part of that obligation. One of the other things that we recently did—you had just mentioned that we drilled a well.   That was well over a million dollars. So, in order to fund that, because we’re a private non-profit mutual water company, we don’t have bonding capabilities.   We don’t rely on taxpayer revenue.   It’s all shareholder based.   And so, the money we raised has all gone to projects like that.”

A major customer is Vail, operator of the Canyons Resort. We asked him how they supply Vail’s needs for their golf courses and snow-making.

“The golf courses are not on our system,” Garland explained. “The nice thing about snow-making is, if you look out the window, it’s still up in the mountains. So, there’s a return to that.  Snow-making returns about a 70, 80 percent return to the watershed. It may not  come back directly into your watershed, but it stays within the local basin.”

KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher asked, “So who takes care of the golf course water needs?”

The golf course has their own supply of water,” Garland answered. “They have their own well, and they have some stream rights.”

Finally, he said that the customers for all the water systems need to learn to conserve.

“I think it’s prudent for everybody, even after a great snowpack, right? that we still shouldn’t be comfortable that this is the new norm,” Garland said. “This is the best snow year that we’ve had in many, many years. Our reservoirs are still behind where they should be. And just cause there’s snow on the ground doesn’t mean we should over-use. Just because you have the money in the bank, doesn’t mean you should spend, right?”

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