There has been much on the Summit Water front. In mid-August, Mark Saal penned this article in the Standard:
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.
CC: Cathy McKitrick, Ogden Valley News, Ogden Valley Forum, GEM group. Ron Tymcio, Ogden Standard Editorials
What say ye our Ogden Valley faithful??