Blanding City Council discusses water study that state officials call “forward thinking”

The Blanding City Council spent much of their December 10 meeting discussing a water rate study and forecast model. The study is complex and took more than a year to complete, but it’s already being hailed by state officials as forward thinking. 

State officials caught wind of the study after Kayson Shurtz, the engineer behind the study, presented at a conference for the American Public Works Association (APWA). They were impressed by the ideas and methodologies used.  

Shurtz explained to councilmembers how a model for Blanding City was created and calibrated to forecast water runoff. The predictions will be used to determine classifications for the type of water year the city will have. 

The water year will be color-coded red, orange, yellow, and green – with green being the best conditions and red being the worst. 

A corresponding rate structure was created by Zions Bank to move up and down in tiers based on usage within the color-coded water year. 

In difficult water years, residents will move through the tiers of the rate structure more quickly.   

The plan is designed to incentivize water conservation and avoid red-coded water years. Conservation in better water years will allow the city to store water to use in years where it’s more desperately needed. 

Other municipalities that implemented a tiered rate structure like the one Blanding is proposing conserve 20 to 40 percent more water.

City Finance Director Kim Palmer and City Manager Jeremy Redd note that they ran many scenarios, particularly with commercial and institutional customers, to ensure the model would work right for Blanding residents and businesses. 

The goal is to conserve water, not to increase household bills. 

In other business, the council passed Ordinance 2019-4, which encourages water conservation by prohibiting irrigation between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. 

The ordinance is required by the Bureau of Water Resources in order to obtain low-interest financing for the upcoming project. 

The council approved a development participation program. The city set aside $100,000 for residential development use, up to $7,500 per developed parcel. 

Council members expressed concern about the possibility for the budgeted money to be used up either by a single, large developer or by extensive participation in the program by multiple parties. 

A major subdivision currently in development, Meadowlark Estates, has 22 lots and could get $7,500 per lot, which would exhaust the fund. 

However, the timing of the subdivision financing wouldn’t happen before July when the fiscal year ends and unused monies could be carried over to the next fiscal year. 

During open forum, Randy Kennedy of Clark’s Market asked for an exception to the policy of maximum kilowatts for allowable solar energy installed within the city. 

The two grocery stores in town may install solar power to reduce energy consumption, but need a larger system to make it feasible. The council agreed to let businesses work more closely with city employees and engineers to see if it would be possible. 

In the police report, Chief J.J. Bradford updated the council on incidents for the prior month. The department focused on drunken driving issues and keeping the public safe. Officer Lehi Lacy has left the department and the city is reviewing applications for a new officer. 

Blanding City Recreation Director David Palmer reports a new high for boys basketball registrations. There are 83 participants this year from grades 3-6, with an average of about 20 players per grade. 

Palmer said, “All in all, we’ve had a really good year as far as participation in this community. Kids in this town like to be active.”

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