East side could wither as reservoir drops
Water was the focus of conversation during Tuesday's joint session of the East Carbon and Sunnyside city councils, as authorities reviewed the upcoming water pipeline project while continuing to shed light on the drastic nature of the area's water consumption and dwindling supply.
The councils were joined by water expert and Johansen and Tuttle Engineer Darrell Leamaster, who was present to detail the upcoming Diversion No. 2 Water Project. According to Leamaster, the project will entail two phases, including upgrades to the area's treatment plant as well as a new pipeline from the Grassy Trail Reservoir directly to the plant.
The smaller of the phases will consist of modifications to solve a problem which has been occurring since the system was built in 1985. With manufacturer assistance, the treatment facility's logic boards will be adjusted. This phase will not begin until the fall, after peak water demand has concluded for the year, said Leamaster.
"That part of the project should be pretty simple and I will be here most of the time to oversee that in September or October," he explained. "The complex portion of the project will entail capturing the water that is available at Diversion No. 2. The main reason for that will be use during dry years like we are having this year."
The total flow going into the reservoir is approximately 500 gallons per minute (GPM) at the current time between 600 and 620 GPM are being used by the cities and their industry. According to Leamaster, Diversion No. 2 is producing around 50 GPM, which amounts to 10 percent of the reservoir's total intake.
"What we will do is capture that water, pipe it down, mingle it with the current intake system, treat it and use it," he said. "Sunnyside Cogeneration is interested in this because there are years, not this year, but other years when part of the water that is coming down the canyon belongs to them. They own the secondary rights."
Anytime the water flowing down the canyon is less than five cubic feet per second, all the water is designated as primary. East Carbon owns 70 percent of that water, Sunnyside 20 percent and Sunnyside Cogeneration 10 percent. The project won't do anything to change these water rights but will provide extra water.
The new pipeline is vital, as subsidence and possible underground caverns deplete most of the water which comes from the diversion when it flows toward the cities naturally.
Since Leamaster began finalizing the project this spring, the State Engineer's office has been measuring the lake weekly and acting as a water master. In addition, the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining has agreed to set up a meeting with both Sunnyside and East Carbon to report on their water usage and discharge in the canyon.
"We are really concerned that mining operations under the right fork of the stream could have some impact on us," said Leamaster. "We asked them to set that up that meeting and they said it would happen in June but June is almost gone. I will call then and see about that meeting."
While speaking with Westridge coal officials is something the city would like to see happen, direct answers and solutions to the water use taking place at Sunnyside Cogeneration has become a building storm between the cities.
In May, 19.9 million gallons of water were treated by the cities' joint plant. With a population of about 1,400 residents, East Carbon City used 8.6 million gallons. With an approximate population of 400, Sunnyside and the Sunnyside Cogeneration Plant used 11.2 million gallons.
Council member David Maggio reported these numbers and his concerns with them. In response, Sunnyside Mayor Doug Parsons said that he had not seen the numbers and wasn't aware of the amount of water use as meters at Sunnyside Cogeneration have been a problem.
After lengthy discussion, the cities came to the realization that the power plant is taking between 40 and 50 percent of the total water used. An amount equal to nearly 10 million gallons in May. Their use, coupled with the cities has the reservoir dropping one inch per day, according to Krauss.
"But I'm not going to tell the plant not to use water and then have them come back and say we destroyed the power plant because of lack of water," said Mayor Parsons.
East Carbon officials argued that with wells, mine water and other options the plant does have enough water to run, but chooses to use treated city water because of the comparatively low costs.
At session's end, city officials left promising to review their contracts and talk with the plant. Water use at the Cogeneration facility reportedly has a direct relationship with temperature. The higher the temperature, the more water required to cool their towers. Highs in the 90s and triple digits are predicted regularly over the next two weeks.