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Sunday, August 30, 2015

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.

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