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The Crossroads Journal

City looks at digital metering of pressurized irrigation system

By Linda Petersen
Alpine If approved by the city council, which seems likely, the city will be installing a $2.5 million digital meter upgrade on the citywide pressurized irrigation system over the next two to three years. Earlier this year, the city applied for a Bureau of Reclamation WaterSmart grant to install the individual meters on the system. The city was recently approved for the maximum allowable grant of $1 million. Installation of the meters is expected to help in water conservation. The remainder of the project would be paid for out of the water fund reserves.

On October 10, the city held a public hearing to inform residents about the project. City Manager Shane presented information on the proposed project. (They had a good turnout, he later told the city council.)

The project could be constructed over two to three construction seasons as funding allows. If full funding were found, it could be constructed in one season, Sorenson told attendees. Sorenson said Alpine is currently at about 65 percent buildout so it's important to plans for future service.

If the project is approved, the city would install a meter on each pressurized service, he said. Through an automatic reading system, the meter would be read by phone signal. Currently, the city has a person manually read the meters twice a year. If a user has a leak in their system during that six-month period it is not usually detected until the next reading, which can result in significant water loss and a large bill for the user, Sorenson said.

After completion of the project, city officials expect the base rate for pressurized irrigation water to be similar to what is being charged currently for normal irrigation of landscaping, Sorenson said. If residents use a greater amount, they could be subject to another more costly rate system. The base rate would be calculated based on data collected by the new meters.

Shane said all PI water users would be metered but there would be different rate structure for agricultural and related uses such as orchards.

At the public hearing, 30 residents spoke. Many had specific questions about their own water situations.

Some, like Mark Goodsell, spoke in support of metering the system. Everything he consumed was metered, such as the items he bought at the grocery store and gasoline, he said. He didn't go anywhere that he didn't pay for exactly what he used. Goodsell said the city had his full support for metering and that he would even pay for his meter.

Others such as Glen Hilton felt that metering was just a way for the city to increase revenue or exert more control. Some expressed skepticism that it would actually be effective in encouraging residents to conserve water, or that it would cost individual users less to water their property.

Clark Parker said metering was just another example of the government taking more and more control. He agreed they needed to conserve water but he felt it would be more effective to use the churches to educate people about conserving water.

Others suggested other options such as subsurface watering or an underground system that would put water back into the ground and prevent evaporation.

Ralph Summers said the only way consumption was going to be reduced was by making it financially difficult for residents to water their yards. He said they should just get rid of the metering system and all the uncertainty, and the council should just have the guts to increase the water rates.
The community news source for Eagle Mountain Utah, Saratoga Springs Utah, Lehi Utah, American Fork Utah, Highland Utah, Alpine Utah, and The Cedar Valley, including Cedar Fort Utah and Fairfield Utah. Copyright 2018 The Crossroads Journal LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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