Grassy Trail water project is a "survival issue," councilman says
During an special work meeting Tuesday night, East Carbon' city council reviewed its strategy for funding new water transmission.
"This is a survival issue," said council member David Maggio following the session. "It's like being in a life boat, either you help each other to survive or you drown."
Maggio's comment comes after East Carbon and Sunnyside were unable to communicate effectively enough to bring a water project before the Utah Permanent Community Impact Board this September. The project, which has been discussed for more than a year, gained traction over the past few months as East Carbon City worked with Johansen and Tuttle's Darrel Leemaster on a project that would deliver 300,000 gallons of new water daily to the city's treatment plant.
According to Maggio, the East Carbon plan would tie in to the water source at diversion two, just below Grassy Trail Reservoir. A new transmission line would then run directly to the treatment plant. East Carbon Officials had been ready with a proposal asking the CIB for $280,000 in grant money to move forward with construction.
"I don't think that there is a town west of the Mississippi that would turn down the opportunity to increase their potable water by 30 to 40 percent," said Maggio. "If Carbon County could increase by that degree their argument with Sanpete County would go away."
East Carbon's plans were cut short as Sunnyside City emailed the CIB asking that their name be removed from the funding application due to several issues including a basic lack of communication.
"There has been one simple fact that has been ignored by East Carbon in their effort to complete this project. They have ignored the fact that Sunnyside Cogeneration Associates (SCA) owns 10 percent of the rights for the water they are wanting to put into the treatment plant for the cities," explained the email sent to CIB officials on Aug. 29. "SCA pays Sunnyside to treat whatever water they use from their water right to run their power plant in Sunnyside. They offered to put in the line and pay for it all if the City of Sunnyside would treat their water for no fee."
According to Sunnyside Mayor Doug Parsons, there are many questions East Carbon would have to answer before Sunnyside officials would be ready to come back to the project. However, the email brought to light another problem for East Carbon's council.
"Of course they would like to put in a line of their own and of course Sunnyside is for it. The problem is, Sunnyside doesn't treat any water for the power plant. East Carbon does and they [Sunnyside] sell it. I have a problem with that," said Maggio.
Maggio reported that in addition water treatment, East Carbon officials had question about the manner in which water is metered for Sunnyside Co-Gen. It was the council member's contention that Sunnyside city and the power plant consumer nearly 80 percent of what is taken out of the Grassy Trail Reservoir daily.
"Mayor Parsons has stated, the City of Sunnyside does not do business without being legal and completely honest about the entire thing," continued the email. "That has not happened and we do not care to be involved with the entire project unless it is done more professionally. Please excuse our adamant objection to this entire project until all the parties are a part of it and they all agree on what is being done."
Sunnyside concluded their correspondence by reiterating that they are unable to take on any additional debt, a matter that strikes at the heart of relations between the east county cities.
"I don't believe the water being used by the power plant is correctly monitored and I also think East Carbon's residents are subsidizing a product which Sunnyside then turns around and sells," said Maggio. "This is the city's water project, not a power plant project. Of course they want to run from diversion two to diversion four, their share goes from 10 to 50 percent at that location. Right now our residents are losing out on a large amount of water. Water that seeps into the ground and old mine works before it ever hits town."
East Carbon officials now plan to meet with the Sunnyside mayor and council to discuss a possible November trip to the CIB.