As building booms on the Wasatch Back, a groundwater disaster looms
Some communities in the Weber Basin have ongoing construction moratoriums due to a lack of water, but without better management, fears arise that aquifers could get sucked dry.
Peter Turner took a job in the ski business and relocated from Colorado to Utah 17 years ago, buying a 2,000-square-foot home in the hills near Eden. At the time, it was idyllic — he was surrounded mostly by open space, lush fields, a stunning view of Pineview Reservoir, with Snowbasin a doable bike ride away in the summer months.
But in the years since, houses keep sprouting up, gobbling the open space. Many owners don’t even live there full time, but their landscapes remain lush and pristine.
“That house there is not a primary residence,” he said on a recent tour of his neighborhood’s newer estates. “And the one next to it, I’ve seen people there, like, twice in the last few years.”
Turner has a familiarity with certain homeowners and their habits because he serves as president of Pineview West Water Co., a supplier to about 85 homes stretching up a hillside west of the reservoir’s marina. It’s also one of around 80 small water providers operating in the Ogden Valley. And, like a lot of those providers, Turner is becoming increasingly concerned there’s not enough water to meet soaring demand.
Looking from Turner’s neighborhood to Pineview Reservoir, it’s clear something isn’t right. The low levels and exposed beaches are nowhere near normal for this time of year. The groundwater on which many communities in the Weber Basin depend, however, is harder to see and gauge.
But signs keep popping up that all is not well underground either.