There has been a lot of discussion about water and the Wohali development. This article takes a closer look at the agreements between Coalville City and the developer on both the withdrawn and recently approved applications.
The Worth Of Water
Benjamin Franklin said, “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.” Water has been one of the most controversial topics of the Wohali development. The discussions around who would provide the water and where it would come from stem back to the annexation of the land. There have been almost as many different “plans” as there were meetings. Various experts have weighed in on the topic and many “promises” have been made by both the city and the developer. Now that Wohali’s second application has been approved, let’s take a look at the details that have been hammered out in regards to our most important resource.
What It Boils Down To
Some of the water “benefits” of Application #1 were not viewed as positive by everyone. Many citizens were highly concerned about the possibility of contamination or depletion of Icy Springs as Wohali drilled through it to complete condition #26 (2) which states, “The master developer shall drill, equip and dedicate to the City a culinary water well with production quantity and water quality acceptable to the City and the Utah Department of Drinking Water prior to approval of a building permit for the 77 th lot/unit in the MPD.” Additionally, none of the “benefits” could be realized until Wohali had obtained their own water shares. At last check, the developer was “looking into” purchasing Weber Basin water. All of the “benefits” of Application #1 were promises that required action.
Application #1 (Withdrawn by Developer)
The first application was approved by the council with the following conditions concerning water for the development. Please forgive the repetitive numbering on the conditions. This was taken directly from Coalville City’s website and we wanted to maintain its original format. A complete document with the other conditions from the first application can be accessed here: Coalville City 12/16/19
26. The allowance by the City of the use of contract water available to the City from Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, is only for an interim period not to exceed three (3) years. The Development Agreement shall set forth a process for the Applicant to dedicate water rights and shares, acceptable to the City, or to pay a fee in lieu to the City, for water rights and shares acquired by the City, sufficient to meet the water right demands of the project. The City reserves the right to determine the acceptability of water rights, shares or contract water from Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.
27. A Water Source Protection Plan shall be adopted by ordinance and referenced in the Development Agreement prior to final plat approval of Phase I of the MPD.
26. The master developer shall drill, equip and dedicate to the City a culinary water well with production quantity and water quality acceptable to the City and the Utah Department of Drinking Water prior to approval of a building permit for the 77 th lot/unit in the MPD.
27. The master developer is aware that contract water from Weber Basin Water Conservancy District is disfavored by the City to meet the water dedication requirements of the City and the City has reserved the right to determine the acceptability for dedication of water rights, shares and contract water.
34. The applicant, property owners or master developer is responsible for the cost of any and all new Infrastructure or upgrades required for both on-site and off-site improvements and such improvements shall run with the land. The City and its residents shall not be required to participate in nor have responsibility for any costs associated with the Development. The Developer shall have financial responsibility for costs, expenses and liabilities that are incurred in any way with the Development.
Council Member Cody Blonquist added the following conditions to the approval of the application:
1. The Applicant shall provide replacement water, water rights, water source, and water infrastructure sufficient to meet the demand of the Wohali annexation area.
2. Water is subject to the State Water Engineer approval and shall be turned over after 76 units to the City’s satisfaction.
Application #2 (Approved by Council December 2020)
The current application was approved by council at the meeting on December 14, 2020. No minutes are available for this meeting, but our attorney was able to get a copy of the Conditions Of Approval that were drafted by the developer’s attorney and reviewed by Coalville City Staff. Condition #21 is the only one we could find relating to water:
21. Master Developer shall locate and pay for and cause to be made available to the satisfaction of the City new irrigation water sources appropriate for inclusion in the secondary water system for the golf course(s) located on the Wohali Property. Master Developer shall construct required infrastructure and pay for all water rates and costs associated with providing water for the project, including secondary water for such golf course(s).
For What It’s Worth…
In a December 21, 2020 interview by KPCW, Coalville City Mayor Trevor Johnson was quoted on the water situation, “Now that it’s a permitted use, their culinary water—and a case can be made, that also the secondary water, but I’ll speak to the culinary water first—is the responsibility of the city to provide, so long as they build the infrastructure, and get down to where our system can provide it. For the secondary water, it’s a little bit of a different conversation. While they can make a case that it’s also a utility, by right provided by the city to a permitted use, they have agreed to find their own water. And they are—now, this is in its preliminary stage or whatever in terms of concept, but my understanding is that they are looking at bringing that out of the Weber River, and buying shares, or paying a fee-in-lieu of water rights out of the Weber River.” You can access that full interview here: KPCW
The most recent discussions on the water situation have happened during Coalville City Council meetings in conversations between the Coalville City Council, City Attorney Sheldon Smith and Wohali Representative Jim Boyden. For more on this, read our previous post Another Dam Update or What Was Council Being Fed???
It bears repeating that Wohali has promised Coalville City they will provide their own water for the golf courses and to fill the Wohali dam. Hopefully Coalville City residents will never have to know the worth of water first hand.