Water reuse in approval process, decision on fluoridation in MarchFeb 22, 2022 08:29PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton
Plans for reuse of treated sewage water for irrigation, gardening and landscaping purposes are being considered as the valley continues to grow and drought remains a threat. (Pixabay)
By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]
Big decisions about Draper’s water supply are being made by WaterPro/Draper Irrigation Company and its customers, including whether or not to continue adding fluoride to the water supply and establishing new sources for secondary water through water reuse.
WaterPro originally planned a fall 2021 decision on whether or not to continue fluoridating the local water supply, but that vote was postponed. The company’s September 2021 newsletter said, “In an effort to educate our customers, we sent you information and initially suggested a September 15 vote on the issue. But we have received a number of calls and comments that the information was too focused on the negative impacts of fluoridating water. This was not our intent.” Another WaterPro publication said, “After receiving feedback before a planned vote on September 15, 2021, requesting more time to evaluate this decision, we asked our users to provide their preferences and opinions on this issue.”
WaterPro collected input from customers and stockholders last September and October, then posted that public input on their website in November and December before mailing voter information pamphlets to customers in January 2022. The pamphlet included a summary of arguments for removing fluoride from the culinary water supply, and a letter in favor of fluoridation from Salt Lake County Health Department Director Dr. Angela Dunn and Environmental Health Director Ronald Lund.
In February, WaterPro stockholders received a pink ballot in the mail with the opportunity to vote on the matter. Draper Irrigation Company’s 2022 annual meeting of stockholders will take place Wednesday, March 16, in council chambers at City Hall. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting will start at 7 p.m. There will be no public discussion on the matter of fluoridation.
“The outcome of the vote will be determined by a majority of the votes cast by ballot and in person at the annual meeting. An unofficial count will be provided during the meeting with final results being posted to the company website within 24 hours after the meeting,” Draper Irrigation said.
Meanwhile, with concerns over drought and future water supply, the subject of treated sewage water reuse for WaterPro’s and Bluffdale City’s irrigation systems was discussed at a February public hearing. Water reuse would apply only to secondary water, used for irrigation, and not for culinary water, used for drinking and cooking purposes.
“The water is very clean…this is the latest, state of the art treatment for secondary water,” said Ken Brand of South Valley Sewer District. The process is already happening in other parts of the U.S. and has to meet approved regulations from agencies such as the U.S. Department of the Interior. The treated, reused water is said to be cleaner than the current secondary water Draper gets from canals.
The alternative would be a scenario in which, during a drought, WaterPro would have to shut off secondary water for customers partway through the season.
The project is still in the approval phase with a final decision expected in early 2023. Construction of a pipeline, primarily in the area of 13560 South in Draper, is projected to take two and a half years and people could utilize the reused water beginning in 2025.
Without the reuse system, water rates could increase as much as 45-50%.
“In the long term, this will give us a more reliable source of water and make us more independent,” said Dave Gardner, previous assistant general manager for WaterPro.
Last October, Draper’s city council discussed details of an agreement with WaterPro on the matter. “I see this as a great opportunity to use a resource that’s currently just going down the river. It’s sort of an exchange for better water. Down the road, as growth happens, they’ll be able to pull more water out of it because of the growth as well,” said Scott Cooley, Public Works director. Cooley estimated this system and arrangement would reduce the city’s cost for irrigating Galena Park by roughly $70,000 to $80,000 per year.