Monticello to seek water rights
A large acquisition of water rights, adopting the city budget, and flying flags on city property were all discussed as part of the June 8 meeting of the Monticello City Council.
A public hearing was held for the Monticello Spring Creek water acquisition project, which could double the amount of water the city can collect into its storage ponds each year.
The city is applying for funding through the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund (CIB). The CIB is funded by revenues from oil and gas leases on public lands and those funds are then distributed for projects in the counties which generate the oil and gas leases.
The proposed project in Monticello would look to address future water shortage issues in the community.
The project would purchase additional water rights for the city and install a new catchment system and pipeline to be constructed and tied into the existing city collection system.
Currently, Monticello City owns water rights from South Creek, Pole Canyon, Bankhead Canyon, and North Creek for a total water right of two cubic feet per second (CFS).
Existing catchments and pipelines collect water from these sources and convey it to Loyds Lake and the Monticello City Storage Ponds.
The city has been working to acquire water rights for an additional two CFS from the Spring Creek drainage to provide additional water storage to the system.
A new catchment with a wedge wire screen would be installed, along with a pipeline to convey water to tie into the existing North Creek pipeline. The proposed pipeline would be located parallel to county road 101 in order to limit environmental impacts and lessen permitting requirements.
The estimated cost of the project comes in at $3.5 million. Of that, it is estimated that purchasing the water rights will cost $1.258 million, with construction and engineering for the project estimated at $2.242 million.
The city request from the CIB for a grant/loan mix would cover the cost to purchase water rights.
The city has other avenues to pursue to fund the other aspects of the project, including loans and grants from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and possible application of Monticello federal American Rescue Plan Act funds the city is set to receive.
City Manager Evan Bolt says they feel good about the program being approved either for a loan, grant, or a mix of both from the CIB, based in part because it was ranked the number two most important short-term project within San Juan County.
The council also approved the 2021/2022 city budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. One slight change, as a result of public comment and city council direction from the last council meeting, includes budgeting for a part-time worker for the city recreation and parks departments.
The part-time position would likely be a year-round administrative position with flexible hours. The person would help with communication, organization, and possibly even grant writing for the parks and rec department.
Bolt explained at the last city council meeting that hiring a part-time position is possible with the money the city saved by dissolving the city police department last summer and contracting with the San Juan County Sheriff’s office.
The city cited increasing costs and the challenge of recruiting, training, and retaining officers when the department was eliminated. Bolt estimates the city will save $100,000 to $200,000 a year by contracting law enforcement services with the county.
The council also heard an update on the welcome sign at the northern end of town that was damaged when it was hit by a vehicle. The new sign will be covered by the insurance of the person who hit the sign.
The city plans to move the sign in order to avoid future issues in the area.
Additionally, the council received report that the fuel system for the city airport should arrive in the coming weeks.
Similar to Blanding City, Monticello is looking into a new automated weather observation system for the airport.
Additionally, as CARES Act funds have an upcoming spending deadline, Bolt informed the council that new touchless water features for the pool should arrive soon.
The council received an update on the semi-truck parking lot next to 7-Eleven. Plans to pave the northern end of the block and install a fence are in planning phases, along with additional trash receptacles on the northern end of the lot to prevent trash from blowing into neighboring yards.
Council woman Bayley Hedglin reports that the city, along with Blanding and the county, are working on a grant through the state economic development office to leverage marketing dollars and launch a cohesive campaign between the three entities.
During public comment, city resident Clayson Lyman approached the council about a few items.
Lyman a member of the Monticello Rotary Club, approached the council with ideas to improve Pioneer Park. In addition to a fence in need of repair, Lyman suggested paving a cement path from the sidewalk to the old log church to invite people in. Lyman said he is willing to lead a committee to address these issues.
In public comment at the last meeting, Lyman had asked that American flags be raised and lit at city locations like the city offices, the Hideout Community Center, and the visitor center. Council member Ron Skinner reports that the city is actively working on the issue.