Anonymous Comments Will Be Removed

Anonymous posts can be confusing and hard to follow with several users posting anonymously in the same thread. Please create a User Name/ID when adding to our comments section.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summit Sucks...Water

Our apologies to our faithful readers as we have had a busy summer of travel and have neglected some important Ogden Valley events and issues.  We will strive in the coming weeks and months to catch up.

There has been much on the Summit Water front.  In mid-August, Mark Saal penned this article in the Standard:

'Summit Sucks Water' signs spring up again for balloon festival

In response, Eden resident and advocate Lee Schussman offered this well thought out rebuttal:

Dear Mr Saal, 
Thank you for reporting on the growing divisiveness in the Ogden Valley over Summit’s water exchange application and the processes surrounding that application. (Ogden Standard, August 16, 2015).
Please dig deeper into this issue. Doing so, I think you will find why valley residents are still concerned, confused, and frustrated by both Summit’s actions and the entire process.
As you well know, Summit owns water in Pineview and wants to move the point of diversion to Powder Mountain—a diversion point that will actually use Cache County water and may decrease flows in Wolf Creek by about 25%.
1) Regarding Summit’s using water that would normally flow to Cache Valley (in which drainage Summit holds NO water rights):
Page 2 of the Order of the State Engineer states that, at Summit’s “anticipated flow rate 30% is a reasonable estimate of the water diverted that would naturally be tributary to the Cache Valley drainage.”
Page 3 states, “It is unlikely that there are and will be any significant periods of time where a diversion of water form the applicant’s proposed source(s) will not interfere with an existing right on the Bear River.”
“Any diversion of water from the applicant’s proposed underground points of diversion must include some compensating mechanism to the Cache Valley tributary drainage. … compensation could include releasing 30% of the water pumped from the Hidden Lake Well to the Cache Valley drainage or pumping at times when all rights on the Bear River and its tributaries downstream of the points of diversion are fully satisfied.” 
These rulings by the State Engineer do not seem to give Summit the green light to use the water as they claim.
 2) Regarding the concerns on the Ogden Valley side of the drainage:
Page 4 of the Order of the State Engineer states, “if interference will occur with any of the Weber County protestants, it will manifest itself first in the flows of Wolf Creek,” and
“no diversion of water should be made under the subject exchange during times of the year when WCIC [Wolf Creek Irrigation Company] water rights are not being fully satisfied. WCIC owns Water Right Number 35-7188 which has a priority date of 1861.”
The Order goes on to describe an incredibly complex process under which Summit could use Wolf Creek water:
“The Ogden River Decree provides [to WCIC] a high flow rate of 20.0 cfs and a low flow rate of 9.85 cfs for this right.”  “No water shall be diverted under this exchange if the above identified flows are not available at that intake.”  However, if WCIC can not show that it puts every gallon of that water to “beneficial use,” Summit can pump an amount equal to that unused water out of its wells at Powder Mountain without being “required to mitigate or compensate senior water right holders for water they divert but allow to pass through their system without use to Pineview.” “The Ogden River Commissioner is responsible to determine the amount of water that may be diverted.”
Many of us do not even know in which branch of our government the Ogden River Commissioner is located, let alone who that individual is. And it appears to us that he/she is the person who will decide how much water Summit may pump! 
And how will the Commissioner decide how much water Summit may pump? We are very unsure, but we do know that all those pumping processes will be monitored by whom?
Page 5 of the application: “The applicant(s) [Summit] shall install and maintain measuring and totalizing recording devices to meter all water diverted from all sources pertaining to this application and shall annually report this data to the Division of Water Rights Water Use Program.”
Summit is actively selling properties to individuals who are being told there are no water problems. (Hence the signs in the valley.) It is our understanding that the State Department of Environmental Quality Division of Drinking Water (which previously requested that Weber County NOT issue Powder Mountain building permits until Summit could supply proof that it actually had the water) can only approve the granting of building permits when YEAR-ROUND water is available. Can Summit then proceed to get building permits now when the State Engineer has put restrictions on the amounts and timing of the pumping at Powder Mountain?
Mr. Paul Strange has oft stated, “We have a right to the water we purchased with our land.”  No one can dispute that statement. However, the water that Summit owns is located in Pineview; and they are trying to leverage their investment in that water to gain immensely more valuable water resources -- pristine water located at Powder Mountain. That water already belongs to other citizens.
With Brad Peterson (Director of Outdoor Recreation for the State of Utah) working hard with Summit and putting pressure on the State Water Engineer; with Commissioner Bell (as the Chair of the Powder Mountain Water District) on record as being able to supply Summit with water; with Summit itself in charge of monitoring water use and reporting once a year; with a separate agency (the Ogden River Commissioner) responsible to tell us how much water Summit can have; with Summit sales reps telling prospective buyers that there are no water problems; with another state agency (Department of Environmental Quality Division of Drinking Water) demanding Summit not be issued building permits for those same Summit buyers; and with all of the water users dependent on the Wolf Creek drainage; is it any wonder that valley residents are concerned, frustrated, divided.
Thank you for your interest in this critical issue. Water is a limited resource. It is our opinion that it should also be A LIMITING resource. Our situation is a microcosm of water rights and water shortages all over the western US where developers continue to speculate that there may be enough water in the face of obvious limitations of that resource. As those processes continue, we will continue to run a “debt economy” –trading a long term water debt borne by all the community for a short term economic gain accruing to the developer--just as other areas and other states in the west have done for so long.  We can do better than that by responsibly developing and using water that IS available—in Pineview--and not giving away underground water, the amount of which is certainly limited and in much debate.
The battle of signs many of us are waging may seem  entertaining and humorous, but it an attempt to call attention to an extremely important issue that should be a core determinant in the growth of this entire area.
Please investigate and write more.
Thank you,
Lee Schussman
Eden, Utah
CC: Cathy McKitrick, Ogden Valley News, Ogden Valley Forum, GEM group. Ron Tymcio, Ogden Standard Editorials

What say ye our Ogden Valley faithful??

From Saturday's Standard: As Summit home construction nears, water worries rise

Due to importance, we have published this Standard Examiner article written 
By CATHY MCKITRICK Standard-Examiner staff
In its entirety.
EDEN — As Summit Mountain Holding Group approaches breaking ground on its first few homes near the top of Powder Mountain, the issue of available water continues to fuel opposition in the upper Ogden Valley and beyond.
“Summit Sucks Water” signs periodically appear and disappear alongside Eden roads and at area events to alert potential Summit investors of local discontent with the resort owner’s actions and plans.
Eden residents David Carver and Jeff Guthrie attended the Powder Mountain Water and Sewer Improvement District board meeting Tuesday, Aug. 25. All three Weber County commissioners serve on that board, which is chaired by Commissioner Matthew Bell.
“We’re just valley residents that are concerned about where it’s going and what’s happening,” Carver told trustees. “We want to be able to bring up questions that have to be addressed to move forward.”
To that end, Carver launched a Facebook page to share the information gathered through meetings and research. But he also acknowledged having a specific agenda.
“Our main direction is to push toward getting a pipeline in and not using the (Hidden Lake) well,” Carver said. “If you do that, then all our legal fees can go to help fund that pipeline.”
In other words, Carver would prefer a water treatment plant that would treat Pineview Reservoir water and then pipe it up the mountainside, not only for Summit’s multi-phased development but for other residents as the upper Ogden Valley’s population expands.
“We could not agree with you more,” Bell told Carver. “Those discussions are being had and even more, those discussions are going forward ... that’s where the end of the day is going to be.”
Meanwhile, Carver said he and others plan to “keep the signage up,” and move it toward building the pipeline as an alternative to Summit’s current and potential future wells.
“A lot of people think you need to build it clear to the top (of the mountain),” Carver told the board, “but it just needs to go to the bottom of the road” and tie into an existing pipeline. 
The concept of a regional system that would treat Pineview water and pipe it to users up the mountain has been floated for several months and is largely considered to be the only real longterm solution for the Valley’s water woes.
The water system that will serve Summit’s future development — whether wells or pipelines — all will be owned and governed by the water and sewer district, Bell said.
6639 North Powder Ridge Road, Eden, UT 84310, USA
Map data ©2015 Google
Summit, a youthful collective that draws support from investors around the globe, purchased the 10,000-acre mountain in 2013. While it owns the rights to 1,400 acre-feet of Pineview water, the group aimed to put its new mountaintop Hidden Lake Well into operation, pumping 400 acre-feet of pristine water in exchange for release of the same amount of water from Pineview Reservoir.
On July 31 — after more than a year of protests and dueling hydrogeology studies — the state Division of Water Rights gave Summit conditional approval to do just that, but that approval is being further contested by concerned water-right holders in the Ogden Valley and Cache County.
With this year’s construction season quickly winding down, Summit has sought approval to tap a limited amount of the Powder Mountain District’s water in order to obtain building permits for construction of a few homes. Some of that water could flow from Wolf Creek Irrigation Company, depending on which agreements get signed by all parties.
Mark Anderson, who serves as the water and sewer district’s attorney, said that a “will-serve” agreement is under consideration to provide Summit with water to service up to six new homes. Recent information from the state Division of Drinking Water, however, might impact the content of that agreement, he added.
The Valley’s pending growth is forcing stakeholders to seek comprehensive solutions that will sustain the area into the future. 
“A pipeline is an element that will be considered,” Anderson said, “but where it will end up, I don’t know. There is a range of possibilities.”
Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Summit gets conditional OK to use Hidden Lake Well water

EDEN — Utah’s chief water rights engineer gave guarded approval Friday to Summit’s exchange request to tap 400 acre-feet of water for its Powder Mountain real estate development.
Kent Jones, state engineer for Utah’s Division of Water Rights, issued the eight-page ruling after an extended protest period where senior water right holders in Weber and Cache counties voiced concerns over potential impairment to their supplies.
The approval includes a dozen complex conditions with which Summit must comply, making it unclear whether the ruling represents a green, yellow or red light for the aspiring mountaintop developer.

Click here to read the expanded story.