After months of study, the City Council has given its unanimous approval to a master plan that will guide development of a $4.9 million, citywide secondary water system.

City Administrator Richard Warne said the secondary system is expected to save the average water user about $160 per year. Also, it will ease demand on the culinary system, holding down the cost for treated water and increasing water pressure during peak use periods, he added.The secondary system will draw water from the South Jordan, Utah-Salt Lake, Utah Lake Distributing and Provo Reservoir canals. Much of the irrigated land in South Jordan is being developed as the community grows, which leaves canal water available for the secondary water system.

Experts estimate the city eventually will need 3,374 water shares to supply the completed system. The city is currently buying shares as they become available and may augment the supply with well water that can't be used for culinary purposes.

Three South Jordan subdivisions are already connected to the first stage of the secondary water system and at least eight more are waiting to tie into lines as they are installed.

"We have received overwhelming support for the secondary water system," Warne said. "Our city is characterized by large residential lots - ranging in size from one-third acre to one acre and larger - and it just makes sense to water lawns and gardens with secondary water rather than the more expensive treated water."

South Jordan is entirely dependent on the Salt Lake Water Conservancy District for its culinary water, Warne said, adding, "The cost is high and will rise." The cost of the secondary water is $8.50 per month.

In addition to the high cost of culinary water, high use during summer months often causes severe drops in water pressure. The secondary system will alleviate that problem, Warne said.

The master plan also notes that the secondary system has a public safety feature: the elimination of open ditches that are a danger to young children.

Because South Jordan is still in the early stages of urbanization, the development of a secondary system is more manageable and economical, Warne said. The plan is to expand the system to existing subdivisions as funding becomes available and to link all new developments to the system.

A new city ordinance requires subdividers to install a secondary water distribution system within their subdivisions. Also, they must surrender one water share per acre to the city for the water supply.

The city will maintain the distribution lines and subdivision lines to the discharge valve at each property line, according to the master plan. Property owners will be responsible for lines beyond their valves.

Warne estimates it may take 20 years to complete the system. By then, the city's population will probably have grown from 12,500 to more than 30,000, he said.

The master plan establishes the size of pipes to be installed throughout the city and specifies their location. Each pipeline is expected to maintain a delivery pressure of 10 to 15 pounds per square inch.

The proposed pipelines generally follow property lines, roads or existing fence lines. An effort was made to limit the number of road crossings, especially along Redwood Road. One consideration in the location of the main lines was the position of existing weirs on the canals, the master plan said.

At the same time as they approved the secondary water system plan, City Council members endorsed a culinary system plan that proposes $800,000 worth of improvements - mostly replacing small lines with larger pipes - during the next four years.