Except for one short spur line and two concrete collections boxes (out of 34), the multi-million dollar Monticello water collection system is complete, according to Nathan Langston, Monticello City Public Works Director.
The water system rebuilding job, which has been on going for the past two years, has increased the water inflow into the city system by up to 400 percent.
The old collection system, some of which was built almost 100 years ago, was small and riddled with leaks. “We lost about half the water that entered the system on the mountain before it ever got to the storage reservoirs because of leaks,” said Langston.
With much larger arterial pipes, no leaks, and rebuilding catch basins, the new system actually delivers more water than the city uses. When the city reservoirs above the treatment plant are full (as they are now) the excess water flows to Loyd’s Lake by the same pipeline which pumps water from Loyd’s to the treatment plant in dry years.
The City of Monticello’s year-round water right is two cubic feet of water per second. That water right translates into millions of gallons per day now that there is a system in place to capture and deliver it.
With the completion of the collection system, and the new treatment plant that was finished and placed in operation in 1999, Monticello is in the best water shape in its history.
Even with things looking as good as they do, the city and county are actively working on future water storage, with new dams under study at Clay Draw and existing Gordon Reservoir northwest of the city.
Plans call for a new dam to be built at one of these locations as soon as site studies are complete and financing can be secured. The new reservoir could more than double the amount of water available to Monticello.
Much of Monticello’s culinary water supply is presently pure enough to not need treatment. It comes out of the springs, which are covered by concrete, and runs through pipes to the treatment plant or the storage reservoirs above the treatment plant before it ever sees the light of day. All water in the system is treated, according to state and federal law, whether or not it is needed. Each month, Mr. Langston is required to send 18 different water samples to Price or Salt Lake City for testing.
The new treatment plant has the capacity to treat 1.5 million gallons of water a day. At the peak of the summer use, Monticello uses about 600,000 gallons of treated culinary water daily. The City secondary (untreated) water system cuts down on overall water costs, by not having to treat the large volume of water used on lawns and gardens in the summer.
To date, runoff into Loyd’s Lake has been less than anticipated this spring. Despite one of the largest snow packs in the past 20 years, runoff never reached expectations, possibly because of the unusually cold spring. In cold weather, moisture is lost to evaporation. A slow melt puts more water into the ground than into streams.
Loyd’s Lake is about 1,050 acre feet (or about 25 percent) below capacity. In the past week, when temperatures reached 80 degrees, the flow into Loyd’s was three times what it has been. However, unless it stays warm while there is still snow on the mountain, all bets are off that Loyd’s Lake will fill this year, despite optimistic earlier forecasts.
It costs $2,000 a month to pump water from Loyd’s Lake to the water treatment plant. As energy costs rise, so will the cost of pumping in the future. The new collection system could do away with the need to pump if precipitation is anywhere near normal.
If a new dam is built, either in Clay Draw or Gordon’s, water could gravity flow into the city system, and pumping from Loyd’s may seldom be necessary. That will provide twin benefits of keeping the taste of the water better, and helping the city’s bottom line. City water in Loyd’s Lake could be used for the golf course, the cemetery, and the portion of town low enough to gravity flow secondary water. More agricultural use could be available than has been in the past.
One of the greatest benefits of the new water system and the new dam and reservoir which may come on line is that Monticello is more prepared for growth that may come as a result of George Wythe College, renewed uranium and gas activity, and the retirees who are buying property in the area.
The City’s large sewer lagoon system was built in the 1980’s to accommodate a city of 5,000 residents. Monticello may soon be in the enviable position of being able to double in size before major adjustments to sewer and water systems are required.