Summit Water Distribution Company Planning For The Future
The General Manager of Summit Water, Andy Garland, has admitted that his company leases surplus water from Mountain Regional, and will be doing the same from Park City Municipal.
But Garland says that doesn’t mean they have a supply problem. He says they are planning for the future.
The county’s Mountain Regional Water District has leased 800 acre-feet to the Weber Basin District, which in turn leases to Summit Water. Just recently, the Park City Council approved a deal to transfer 500 acre-feet, also through Weber Basin, to Summit.
Garland said the deals were envisioned when the water entities signed onto the Western Summit County Project some 6 years ago.
“Back in 2013, when we all signed the Western Summit Master Agreement, one of the benefits of that was each of the water companies was able to put out, if they had surplus water” Garland said, “So if they had a company that needed water, versus a company that was short of water, companies that had surplus water were able to monetize what they have. And so, what we started to do back in 2015, is we started taking some water from Mountain Regional. And this is all part of the regionalization plan. And so, what Park City brought to their Council is not water for today. It’s actually five years out.”
Garland said the water-combine agreement calls on the entities to plan out in five- or ten-year increments.
“So what we’re doing is we’re trying to figure out, look in our crystal ball and figure out what the need will be five years from now,” Garland explained. “And it’s really hard to project. Of course, we know the Canyons is only a quarter percent built out. So, we’re basing our projections on where the growth of the Canyons may or may not go. One of the good things is we have five years to project that. One of the bad things is what we commit to today, is what we’ll end up taking in five years, whether we need it or not.”
Garland said they’re overseen by the state, as well as the county’s own water concurrency ordinance, and the reviews have found that Summit has enough water for its current customers.
“So what we’re trying to do again is prepare for the future,” Garland said.
“Have you taken on too many customers, given that you now need to lease water back, to supply the water for the future of the Canyons Village?” KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher asked.
“No,” Garland responded. Again, that’s part of this whole agreement. That’s why several years ago, people got together looking toward the future and what the needs would be. We have plenty of water. We will be able to meet those needs.”
“Yeah, only because you’re leasing back water from other water companies, though,” Thatcher said.
“Correct. Correct” Garland replied.
“That doesn’t explain. I mean, you have taken on the customers as Summit Water. Why do you need to lease back water from other entities?” Thatcher asked
“We have enough water for today,” Garland said. “Again, what we don’t know in the future is what’s going to happen in the economy. Are things going to slow down or not? And so, what we’re trying to do is—it’s an insurance policy against future growth. So, if it happens, the water’s there. If not, the water’s there as well.”
On two occasions in recent years, the company implemented a water-drilling operation, which could be seen by the Kimball Junction transit center. The site is known as the Hi-Ute well.
“So, there is a drilling moratorium here in the Basin,” Garland continued. “And you’re only allowed to re-drill within 150 feet of a former well, and we took advantage of doing that. So, we went down a little further than we thought to get some water. So that’s another thing that we have, that we will be able to use in the future.”
“So you did find what you were looking for?” Thatcher asked.
“We didn’t find as much as we were looking for, but we did find a couple hundred acre-feet,” Garland said.
“So how does that get brought on line?” Thatcher questioned.
“So, the infrastructure was already there,” Garland replied. “And so, once you re-drill, you have to go through approval processes through the state to make sure it meets the state requirements. And that water is available and being used right now.”
He said they follow sound practices to maintain their water sources, like resting their wells.
“One of the nice things about purchasing water is we are able to rest our wells and our sources through different times of year,” Garland explained. “As you can imagine, the summer’s the biggest demand. But right now we’re not really running anything at all. We do have to run things from time to time just to keep testing them, to meet the state testing requirements. But we’re really not running anything at the moment.”
Summit Water also holds rights in the East Canyon Reservoir. But Garland said, they’re hoping not to move to an East Canyon pipeline until several years in the future. As Clint McAffee from Park City Municipal noted, that could be an expensive project. Garland said that’s why they’re leasing from each other.
“Why we’re leasing water from the local water companies—Mountain Regional and eventually from the city—is to slow that process down,” Garland continued. “That project, a couple years ago, and I think Clint spoke last week, the hundred-plus million dollars then. And the cost of water is already expensive. And that would really make it more expensive.”
As for the water treatment plant the company built near Jeremy Ranch, he said it was sold to Weber Basin. It’s not online now, since it would need the pipeline supply from East Canyon.