San Juan may seek Grand water services; impact fees to rise
by John Hales
The Times-Independent
Mar 22, 2018 | 1007 views | 0 0 comments | 54 54 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Development in the northern San Juan County portion of Spanish Valley could get sewer service from the Grand Water and Sewer Service Agency, under a new impact-fee recommendation made last week by the agency’s engineering firm. 								        Photo by John Hales
Development in the northern San Juan County portion of Spanish Valley could get sewer service from the Grand Water and Sewer Service Agency, under a new impact-fee recommendation made last week by the agency’s engineering firm. Photo by John Hales
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Impact fees paid by Grand County residents to connect to sewer services provided by Grand Water and Sewer Service Agency could rise by about $80, if the agency adopts a recommendation from a recent study of the issue.

The same study, performed by Sunrise Engineering and delivered to GWSSA Board members last week, suggests a new impact fee of about $1,755 for future connections to the GWSSA sewer system from homes in San Juan County, an eventuality the agency is planning for.

“San Juan County is looking to hook up to the system,” Robert Worley, of Sunrise Engineering, told the GWSSA Board on Thursday, March 15.

Currently, Grand County residents who connect to the GWSSA sewer system (as distinct from City of Moab sewer services) pay an impact fee of $1,952. The Sunrise Engineering study presented by Worley last week suggested that fee should increase to $2,039. The increase would help pay for future sewer improvement projects necessitated by development in the area, as well as help pay off debt incurred by previous growth-related projects.

“This takes into consideration some of the projects you’ve done in the past,” Worley said.

One future project is a pipeline from the San Juan County border to Lemon Lane (about 2.5 miles), which would enable connections from expected development in the north end of San Juan County.

“About 60 percent of that pipeline is going to paid for by San Juan County,” Worley said.

Worley also reported on plans to install two new pipes in portions of the existing system, which would facilitate service to future development. “By adding those two pipes, it opens up a lot of area for sewer,” he said.

GWSSA plans to hold a public hearing on the impact fee proposal at its meeting on April 5. At that public hearing, agency officials are liable to get an earful from people who are concerned about the agency’s service to San Juan County, particularly when it comes to future development there (the San Juan Spanish Valley Plan) that is highly unpopular with some Grand County residents.

That concern, when added with the idea of future sewer service to San Juan County, is likely what has led to “rumors,” as Board Member Dale Weiss called them.

“There is a rumor going around town that Grand Water is providing water to San Juan County so they can do their development,” Weiss told the board at last week’s meeting.

Weiss said people also ask, “Why doesn’t GWSSA limit growth?” thinking that the agency is empowered somehow to do so.

“Both of these are incorrect. Neither of these are the case,” Weiss said.

The San Juan Spanish Valley Plan includes the construction of both culinary water and wastewater systems at a combined cost of about $10.1 million, according to an overview of the project from the engineering firm Jones and DeMille.

The San Juan sewer system will tie into the GWSSA sewer system, allowing wastewater to be treated at Moab’s wastewater treatment facility. “San Juan’s wastewater will pass through the agency’s collection system, then through Moab’s collection system and on to the treatment plant. Written agreements with both agency and the city will be required as well as monthly operations and maintenance payments,” Grand Manager Dana Van Horn explained in email correspondence this week.

Water for the culinary system will be provided, it is anticipated, from a well successfully drilled in January, not from any GWSSA water source. And in fact, Van Horn wrote, the agency protested San Juan’s initial request, in 2011, for the water right it is using to draw from the well.

While no GWSSA water will be provided to San Juan County, Van Horn wrote, “We plan to have a connection between the two systems in the event that either has an emergency.” As for the GWSSA limiting growth, Van Horn explained that as well. “We can no more tell San Juan how to develop their resources than we can tell Moab City how to develop theirs. The GWSSA board and its forming districts have a duty to our citizens and ratepayers to manage public funds to maintain our system and the public health- not to be political. We may not pick and choose who we serve.”

Van Horn encouraged people with concerns or questions to attend the April 5 public hearing, “or to call our office any time. I am happy to answer all citizen inquiries.”

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