Water users in Davis and Weber counties can expect to pay at least $6 to $8 more per household per year for their water starting this year, according to Tage Flint, general manager for the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.
The rise in rates is based on two factors, both of which are out of Weber Basin's hands. Firstly, Davis County residents voted last year to add fluoride to their water, which will end up costing each Davis household $6 to $8 per year over the next 20 years, according to a Weber Basin study.
Secondly, Weber Basin is in the middle of a $30 million upgrade to its main water treatment plant in Layton. The upgrade was mandated by more stringent Environmental Protection Agency rules on disinfection and filtration of culinary water. Flint called the EPA rules an "unfunded mandate," and said not all of the rules were entirely necessary for Utah.
"Sometimes, the (EPA) regulations are really made for other parts of the country where the water quality isn't as good," said Flint. "We're lucky in Utah because a lot of our water is really pure, basically just snowmelt. So those are the kinds of regulations that are a little frustrating to deal with."
He also said new technology allows for detection of micro-organisms in the water that went entirely undetected 20 years ago, and in cases where potentially harmful organisms are detected, "we should do whatever we can to remove those from the water."
Since there are around 400,000 water users in the Weber Basin, the total per user will be $75 for the $30 million project, but Flint said that cost would be spread out over a number of years.
Another complexity the water district is dealing with is the fact that it can't add fluoride to its main water treatment plant because Weber County forbids fluoride in its water, while Davis County now mandates fluoride in its water. The district delivers water to parts of both counties, so it now has to construct eight fluoride stations at various points along the central water main.
It is possible that Weber County could vote for fluoride in its water during the 2002 elections, in which case the eight fluoride stations will be redundant. Either way, residents of Davis and Weber counties will be footing the bill.