BY TOM BUSSELBERG
BOUNTIFUL – The Bountiful City Council was due to immerse itself in water, Tuesday night.
The group wasn’t planning on a plunge into the pools at the South Davis Recreation Center.
Rather, water was to be looked at in terms of the water rate increase approved in June.
A base water rate increase of about $4 for homeowners was approved, as well as changes to overage fees.
“The rate increase was primarily to maintain existing, and very old, water lines,” City Manager Gary Hill said.
The city’s water system has been delivering culinary (drinking) water to residents for more than a century, City Engineer Paul Rowland said.
“Creek diversions and ditches evolved into wells, pumps, open top reservoirs and wood stave pipe,” he said.
It’s evolved to the “high-tech computers and low-tech pipe, treated creek water and pristine well water, trucks and back hoes, and as always, fluoride,” the city engineer said.
However, Bountiful’s growth spurt that started after World War II included annexation of lots of previously unincorporated areas. That meant accepting a variety of pipe and infrastructure, Rowland said.
“Now that the big expansion phase of the city’s life is past, we need to maintain what was created during the expansion,” he said.
But pipe in the ground wears out, creating water leaks that can “become a real problem,” Rowland said.
The city’s water pipes range from 6 to 12 inches in diameter, Hill said. Where warranted, some pipes would be replaced with enlarged capacities.
Prior to the rate hike, funds were accumulating too slowly to allow for replacement of water pipe Р and other needs.
About half of the amount needed to keep up with water pipe replacement was being spent. A capital needs study indicated $900,000 a year is needed, Rowland said.
“Our water treatment plant is about 25 years old,’ Hill said. Typical lifespan for such facilities is 20 years,.
“So much of that is a function of technology,” he said.
However, the plant’s replacement is planned for “down the road,” not in the near future, Hill said.
He cited replacement of the reservoir near Valley View Elementary School as likely to happen a lot sooner. The school is at 1395 S. 600 East.
Backup water needs would be met by other city reservoirs.
The average rate hike was $11.16.
Meters with a hike of more than $20 included industrial, multi-family, schools, churches, commercial and single family, or just above one in nine meters.
Ninety-three meters where the increase would be above $100 totaled less than 1 percent. Of those with rates above $100, 55 are single-family residences, or about one in 200 meters, Rowland said.
The approved rate increase was based on covering basic replacement needs and maintaining at least $1 million in the capital reserve account.
It was also based on setting a rate that will cover needs for five-seven years. Future increases could sustain needs at about the same time frame.
The increase was intended to apply to the base rate and overage charges. The previous rate increase was heavily weighted to the base rate, Rowland said.