96 South Main Street, PO Box 77, Nephi, Utah 84648 - Voice: 435 623-0525 - FAX: 435 623-4735

On our front page this week

  • Mona City takes a serious look at fairness of requiring a quarter share of irrigation water to accompany every building permit application before approval

By Myrna Trauntvein
Times-News Correspondent

Can or cannot Mona require a quarter share of irrigation water from anyone proposing to build in the city?

That is the question, and once again, there seems to be controversy surrounding the answer.

Council members, Doran Kay and Harry Newell, who both are share holders in Mona Irrigation Company, think there is irrigation water enough that some will be available for sale by landowners.

Cory Squire, council member, said the council had agreed to notice the proposed changes to the ordinance and so he was prepared to do so. Nevertheless, the council postponed taking that step for a while longer.

"If we put such an ordinance in place, we need to be able to stand up to the legal test that will come," said Rick Schnurr, council member. "Our decision has to be legally defendable."

He said he had contacted the city's attorney, Phil Lowry, and found that he still had some concerns about the proposal to require one-quarter share of irrigation water be dedicated to the lot of every home built in the future.

Schnurr, who was appointed by Mayor Bryce Lynn to review the proposal, said he had found out that Mona is considered a "closed" water district. That means that the resource in the valley where Mona is located will never expand as laws are structured today.

"I understood that you were not supposed to go to Lowry but to a water attorney," said Kay.

Schnurr said that was to come. He would also contact Utah Association of Towns and Cities and find out what their legal staff had to say about the proposal.

Darlene Fowkes, council member, said that requiring a quarter share of irrigation water accompany every building permit application before it would be approved may not be fair.

"We may be closing up the community to building," she said. "Right now that much water would cost $10,000 if anyone would sell."

That figure represented the going price for water in the area.

Most cities where water is required with a building permit have plenty of water to sell to begin with. That is why it is considered legal in such locations, because there is a lot of available water for sale.

"Pleasant Grove has a water requirement but they also have seven canals and water from Strawberry that comes to the community so it is not a hardship to purchase water there," said Schnurr.

Water cannot be purchased from outside the drainage area and then transferred to Mona as can be done in the reverse. For example, he said, water which originated in the Mona drainage system could be sold to someone in Santaquin or Goshen because the water drained that way but it could not be sold by someone in Santaquin or Goshen and the point-of-diversion transferred to Mona.

"Water can be transferred from the Nephi area to Mona," said Kay.

Nevertheless, he said, water was a limited resource that needed to be guarded and the requirement that every home in Mona which is built in the future have a quarter share of water to be dedicated to the lot it was built on was just sound planning.

"What happens if the city cannot supply the water needs of the residents of the community in the future?" he asked.

Cities had ways to get water that private individuals did not have, said Schnurr, and attorneys considered that when looking a proposals. One of those ways, of course, is condemnation.

That would be a last resort and one the council would, more than likely, not consider but attorneys did take that into consideration. What they did not like was imposing unfair standards on those seeking to build in a community.

"Before we make a decision, we need to find out what resources are available," said Schnurr.

He said the council and the attorney they consult, a water attorney, will need to determine the availability of water in the Mona drainage system and determine how difficult it will be for residents to purchase a quarter share of water and how legal imposing such a requirement will be considered by the courts.