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The question facing American Fork on plans for two different pressurized irrigation systems is whether to go it alone or join the group.

The city has two proposals for secondary water systems sitting before it. One ties five neighboring communities together and the other leaves American Fork on its own.City officials haven't decided which way to go, although Mayor Jess Green has said a secondary system for watering lawns and gardens will happen sometime in American Fork.

Horrocks Engineers of American Fork recently completed a study of a citywide system. The two-phase project is estimated to cost $9.5 million, which the city likely would have to bond for.

"That initial cost could be a burden on the city," Cory Walker, a Horrocks engineer, told the City Council.

Residents would also feel the weight of the costs. Horrocks figures the city must collect $5,658 per acre of development to pay for the system. The owner of a home on a one quarter-acre lot would have to put up a $1,414 connection fee. Annual operation and maintenance costs are estimated at $290,000. Residents' yearly service charge would depend on how many homes use the system. If 5,000 homeowners buy connections, the charge would be $58.

"We would recommend that this not be anything that is forced on the residents," Walker said.

The $5.8 million first phase would provide irrigation water through large, underground pipelines for major users such as city parks, schools and hospitals. Lines would be run to smaller users in the $3.7 million second phase.

Secondary water systems provide several benefits, Walker said. Irrigation water is usually cheaper than culinary water; water pressure would be constant; culinary water would be conserved; open ditches will be eliminated by pipelines and less water would be lost to evaporation.

American Fork's "stand-alone" system could be a phase of the proposed $48.2 million, five-city Northern Utah County Pressurized Irrigation System. That system offers essentially the same advantages on a much larger scale. American Fork, Pleasant Grove, Highland, Alpine and Cedar Hills would work together to construct the system.

Cost to residents would be less under the cooperative plan. Residential users would pay a $250 connection fee and a $16.70 monthly service charge, according to Perkins-Thurgood Consulting Engineers Inc., Orem. Perkins-Thurgood completed their study of pressurized irrigation for the five cities last February.

Farrell Larson, president of the American Fork Irrigation Co., says it makes sense for the cities and engineering firms to work together. They would have more clout as group to approach the Central Utah Project for possibly $15 million to $20 million in funding for the five-city system.