Just when east Midvale residents thought they would soon be drinking Midvale water instead of higher-priced Sandy water, the Midvale City Council may scrap a plan to buy Sandy waterlines that serve the area and install its own during the next three years.
The council is considering the move after City Engineer Duane Goodyear told members the $180,000 proposed to buy and upgrade Sandy's aging system would be better spent on a new system. He said the galvanized lines would have to be replaced in the near future and do not provide enough pressure in some areas.Goodyear said that the system could be installed during a three-year program at current funding levels. Council members also discussed bonding to finance summer construction.
Without the bonding, the available $180,000 could be enough to install new lines on as many as three streets in the affected area this summer, Goodyear said. The lines serve 164 homes east of State Street and 109 more homes in Midvale and in a island of Salt Lake County west of State Street. The area stretches from 75th South to 78th South.
The proposal is the latest chapter in a dispute over the waterlines that has lasted almost a decade. The water system was formerly owned by the Union-Jordan Irrigation Co., and Sandy paid $1.75 million for the system in 1973. Since the area was annexed by Midvale in 1979, Sandy has charged higher rates and has denied requests for water hookups to building lots. Midvale filed a suit in 1985 hoping to force Sandy to end those practices.
During the past four months, officials were optimistic negotiations would settle the dispute and Midvale would buy the system for $88,800, but the new proposal casts doubt on that agreement. It also means that residents who have not been able to sell property in the area because Sandy wouldn't provide hookups may have to wait a little longer. In addition, Sandy would lose $88,800.
"Sandy's solution is the easiest and quickest solution, but is it the best solution for the city?" Midvale Mayor Everett Dahl asked.
The plan also involves some risks, said Midvale Councilman R. Kent King. King, whose home is hooked up to the disputed system, believes that the plan may not sit well with Sandy officials who could pressure Midvale officials by raising water rates in the area.
Sandy Councilman Ralph Tolman said that if he were a member of Midvale's City Council he would vote to construct the new system.
"If I was Midvale I would do the same thing considering the fact that this line is old and inadequate. I think fair is fair," Tolman said. "It would be a small gain for Midvale and a big loss for Sandy."
Sandy City Administrator Byron Jorgensen said he could not comment on Midvale's plan without further study other than to say, "I think what we have offered them up to this point has been a very fair deal."