Asserting that water will someday be more precious than land, the City Council here has voted to go along with the Southern Utah Valley Municipal Water Association to buy water from the Bureau of Reclamation.

The total commitment, as agreed last year, is for 1,590 acre feet a year for 40 years, but the city won't have to pay for it for 10 years. Mapleton's portion is about 17 percent.The city may not need the water until it begins paying for it, barring severe drought or major growth. But Mapleton needs to be prepared for the future, said Councilwoman Charlee Hanna.

The cost to Mapleton is about $6,000 per acre-foot over the next 40 years, said Mayor Richard Young. The city expects to get from 250 to 280 acre feet a year.

Councilman Brian Lambert argued against the proposal because the city has no plan in place on how to pay for the water, but went along with the vote, making it unanimous. Young said he is confident a payment plan will be in place by the time the city needs to pay for the water.

The water, which is part of the Central Utah Project, remains in Strawberry Reservoir until needed. The southern Utah Valley Municipal Water Association will monitor its usage. If developers need the water to satisfy city building requirements, the city can sell it to them for about $3,000 for one share, said city attorney Jim Brady.

"This is irrigation water but it will extend the life of our wells," Hanna said.

But the CUP water can be diverted to municipal water, Brady said. The water will be delivered through a canal system, not yet built. However, construction of a main trunkline for a secondary water system here begins in two weeks, part of a deal worked out with Ensign Bickford Co. in a settlement stemming from the company's pollution of Mapleton's groundwater several years ago.