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South Valley Journal

Riverton City nixes irrigation fee forgiveness resolution, talks irrigation regulations

Aug 05, 2016 08:30AM ● By Chris Larson

Riverton, Utah - The Riverton City Council failed to pass a resolution to forgive 50 percent of the irrigation water fees and called an emergency meeting to pass a resolution setting secondary watering restrictions.

Presented by Administrative Services Director Lisa Dudley, the resolution to forgive the fees had a staff recommendation to pass, yet failed on a lack of second vote.

The secondary water system was turned off from July 16 to July 22, Dudley said, and took several days for the irrigation system — which fills from east to west — to get back to capacity. Some residents may not have had full use of the secondary water system until the end of July, which would have been half of the month.

The City Council passed a resolution in an emergency City Council meeting on July 19 that ratified Mayor Applegarth’s declaration to shut down the secondary water supply after the Utah Department of Environmental determined that water pulled from Utah Lake was contaminated by cyanobacteria and the consequential cyanotoxins. The resolution to forgive the irrigation water fees was presented to the council in the July 19 meeting but didn’t receive attention again until Aug. 2.

Three city council members voiced their opposition to the resolution which would have halved the city’s irrigation water income.

Councilwoman Tricia Tingey, District 2, said it would be irresponsible not to collect the secondary water fees which are used to pay back the bond in place to pay for the secondary water system.

“When you go out and buy a new car and the new car sits in a garage for three months, the bank does not issue a rebate on what you owe them,” Tingey said.

Councilman Paul Johnson spoke at length about the potential of the canal companies and conservancies saying there wasn’t enough water in Utah Lake to pump to cities. But, like Tingey said before Johnson went on a self-described “rant,” Johnson said he also believes the city is still responsible to pay the bond for the secondary water system. 

“I’m all for giving rebates back when we can’t deliver because of our inability to do so because of infrastructure or something we cause,” Johnson said. “This is something we didn’t cause.”

Johnson also said the irrigation water was shut off over safety and liability concerns to the general public, suggesting the move to do so did not obligate the city to pay for the lack of service.

Councilman Trent Staggs, District 4, said the irrigation water is not metered in the city — something he wants to see changed — which likely allowed people to “overcompensate” once the secondary water system was turned back on, getting their money’s worth.

The only council member to support the resolution, Paul Wayman of District 3, said the fee forgiveness would a gesture of goodwill towards the citizens who are likely going to pay increased water fees for culinary water usage.

Dudley said the irrigation water bills had not been calculated as of the meeting because of potential changes to billing based on the council’s action. She said the administration was able to adjust billing based on parameters set by the council.

A great deal of conversation on the resolution was based on water conservation efforts and ideas for reducing irrigation water usage for the city, which was cited as being 28 million gallons a day during the summer.

Councilwoman Tricia Tingey District 2 proposed the city be divided into two watering districts that would water on alternating days to reduce Riverton Citys secondary water consumption Photo Chris Larson South Valley Journal

Riverton City to consider mandatory watering schedule - Aug 04, 2016 03:51PM

Riverton City announced Wednesday the City Council will consider a water restriction ordinance to restrict daily secondary water usage by 10 million gallons. Read More » 

 At the end of the meeting, the council and the mayor said they would be releasing a statement acting as public notice of the council’s intention to hold an emergency meeting to potentially pass irrigation water restrictions.

Riverton City Water Director D. Scott Hill said Utah Lake’s level, the source for nearly all of Riverton’s secondary water, is dropping by .02 feet every day and that the Utah State Engineer will shut down pumping from the lake if the rate gets to .03 a day and prioritize water rights in rationing measures.

The general consensus of Mayor Applegarth, council members and City Manager Lance Blackwood was to have the staff and administration write statements that would go to the general citizenry asking for their voluntary conservations and informing them of the public hearing associated with the meeting and to local municipal leaders calling for immediate conservation efforts.

While no official resolution was issued from the council, the city administration and leadership present said the city would be taking action to attempt to reduce daily usage by 10 million gallons per day.