Grassy Trail water project would be like finding new lake
During Tuesday's East Carbon City Council session a public hearing was conducted which could affect the city for decades to come.
Over the past several years, engineers and city officials have been working to get more water from the Grassy Trail Reservoir to the residents of East Carbon and Sunnyside. That work has finally borne fruit as the project is only one CIB funding session away from seeing the light of day.
At the public discussion, local officials and citizens heard from Johansen and Tuttle engineer Darrel Leemaster, who has been working on a water solution in the area for the past several years. Specifically, Leemaster discussed a joint Utah Permanent Community Impact Board (CIB) funding application from East Carbon and Sunnyside. The grant application, which requests $289,000, would allow the city to create a new water transmission line from Grassy Trail's diversion number two as well as perform several much needed upgrades to the area's water treatment facility.
According to Leemaster, a significant amount of water from the town's reservoir is being lost as it travels down from the mountain lake and into Sunnyside and East Carbon. While some water slipping away along the creek bed would be normal, the amount currently lost speaks to a larger problem.
"We fractured the ground badly when we were mining at Kaiser," said city council member David Maggio, who is also a retired coal miner. "The water floods into the mine after diversion number two."
The water which the city plans to collect is significant. According to city Mayor Orlando LaFontaine, the combined cities use approximately one million gallons of water per day. Diversion two has been calculated to produce around 300,000 gallons a day, accounting for a third of the cities' intake.
In addition to collecting the water and piping it to the treatment plant, Leemaster commented that his crew will also attempt to tie into an old 10 inch line at the site which may also provide the city with a secondary water source of raw water for irrigation or potential business needs.
"That line could also pick up all of the back wash water which is now flushed down the creek bed," said the engineer. "So that would provide even additional raw water for use."
As Leemaster finished his initial presentation, the council weighed in with their thoughts on the project.
"When I first took office, the city was just coming out of a drought cycle," said LaFontaine. "This project could eliminate those problems or at least provide some relief. Right now this is good water going to waste. This is an essential project."
The council as a whole spoke favorably about the project. However, the body did report that they felt better communication was needed between them and Sunnyside concerning the funding request.
"Sunnyside city has a new mayor since we started with this project," said council member Barbara Robinett. "I think we need to go up there and talk with Doug about this."
In response to Robinett's comments, Leemaster reported that his body had already made their report to Sunnyside and that the city did favor the project.
"We discussed the matter at length and while Mayor Parsons was a little discouraged by the fact that he had not been spoken to about the project, he was very much in favor," explained the Vernal engineer. "Their only request was that we sit down with Sunnyside Co-Gen and explain the process to them."
Ninety percent of Grassy Trail Reservoir's water reserve is owned by the two cities while Sunnyside Co-Gen owns 10 percent.
"This project is essential to everyone including the power plant. My main goal in this project is to get the water from diversion number two into the treatment plant. We have other plans for additional collection but this needs to be done now," said LaFontaine.
The second phase of the project will entail updating two of the city's water treatment units.
According to the engineer, the two older units have a flawed design which the manufacturer changed. This flaw causes a build up of particulate in the water which brings the water below safe drinking levels for a short time. This project will cost the city approximately $22,000 and Leemaster commented that even if the board denied their funding request the cities should pay for this repair on their own.
That point brought brought Leemaster to his only question of the officials.
"If the board tells you that they want you to take on this project through a loan, would you be willing to do that? You are pretty heavily in debt already but I just wanted to know if that was something you would consider. Sunnyside stated that they would not be interested in taking on a loan."
In response, council member Maggio reported that because they city had taken a loan for its cemetery project, the board might be more favorable toward a grant on the water project.
"That day $14 million was given in all out grants and we took a loan," said Maggio. "I think they will help with this one."
The project has been given a favorable rating from the Association of Local Governments and according to Leemaster, could see CIB funding as soon as August or September.
"If we don't have water, we can't have our homes here," concluded LaFontaine. "I consider this to be the most important project I have been a part of here in the city."