Wasatch County Debates Well Changes, Watershed Study

Jul 6, 2020

Credit Wasatch County

The Wasatch County Council continued work on allowing smaller properties to have culinary wells as well as updates to the watershed plan on Wednesday.


Currently, parcels in unincorporated Wasatch County must be at least five acres in size to have a culinary well placed on them, but the County Council is considering lowering that minimum to four acres. 


County planner Doug Smith says they've added language addressing a few perceived issues with the code change. 

“Due to lack of fire flow with homes on wells the fire district may require additional fire mitigation,” Smith said. “The other thing we talked about is that the property owner enters into a volunteer deed restriction prepared by the county, agreeing that the property will not be further subdivided or reduced in size in the future.” 


Smith also said the current general plan language on wells is so specific that the county would have to amend the general plan to allow the change. 


The general plan can be amended once a year in November, so the council would need to wait until then to allow the code change to go into effect. 


The council generally seemed supportive of the ordinance, which is aimed to help landowners in the northwest portion of the valley near the Provo River. However, county manager Mike Davis expressed concerns about the impacts of the code change beyond the area. 


“It opens up all of the RA one to this provision,” Davis said. “We already have a proposed plat change on a subdivision that is supposed to go into Midway that this could apply to. I just think it needs to be narrowed down. I’m not against trying to solve this problem out there on River Road.” 


The council agreed to continue the item to allow staff to try providing more parameters regarding where the new code would apply. 


The council also heard a presentation from engineers who had conducted a watershed study for the county.

Project Manager Ryan Taylor outlined that while the county has previously had watershed plans, they’ve mostly been focused on agricultural use. Taylor says an emphasis of the new watershed study is development impacts on the county watershed. 


“The idea was to try to get ahead of some of those issues that we know are going to occur as the development continues,” Taylor said. “What can we do to minimize the damages, and maximize our water quality as we become a more urban area. The intent of the study was to go through and highlight some of those areas from the road, sewage, fertilizers and pesticides that people use on their lawns. The type of pollution that comes with development that is different than what we've had in the past.” 


Taylor recommended using soils instead of curb and gutter, updating stormwater design guidelines, and discourage development on steeper slopes. The council voted to adopt the study which will serve as a basis for future ordinances.