An effort to bring a culinary water system to the west side of Duchesne County moved a step closer to reality recently when voters living within the Pinon Forest Special Service District approved a new tax.

Voter turnout was sparse - only 37 people participated in the special election. Twenty-four people said yes to the plan to raise the property tax, equal to $20 on a $50,000 home, and 13 cast ballots against the tax, said Fred Mauerman, chairman for the district.The tax will raise $29,597 this year. The money will be used to help fund part of the cost of engineering studies.

Mauerman said it's unknown just how many registered voters live within the boundaries of the Special Service District west of Starvation Reservoir because it encompasses two voting precincts.

"We have to figure out if they actually live within the boundaries and without addresses in the west end of the county, right now, we just don't know exactly how many there are."

What Mauerman does know is that the county's west end continues to grow by attracting those who commute to Heber and Park City, as well as retirees who are migrating to the area that is becoming well-known for its recreational opportunities and reasonable property prices. With the growing population comes more demand for culinary water.

Because it's hard to get a good well in the area, many west end residents buy their water from Duchesne city and must drive into town to haul it home.

The Special Service District sent out a survey to determine if landowners in the area would pay an impact fee upon construction of the proposed water system. Mauerman said 140 of those surveys came back with a definite yes.

Rough estimates show it could cost over $7 million to build the water system. The district met with disappointment earlier this month when it lost its bid for a $25,000 Community Economic De-vel-op-ment Grant to help pay for a feasibility study, but Mauerman said district representatives are working with potential funding agencies on a daily basis.

"It's my belief that we will be able to fund engineering costs this year," he stated.