Ordinance Would Make Taking Star Valley Water A Crime

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The Town of Star Valley is looking into an ordinance that would make it illegal for anyone outside the boundaries of the town to draw water from Star Valley.

The Town Council tabled the ordinance Tuesday night so it could be examined by an attorney, but plans to hold an executive session to discuss the details of the ordinance and the attorney's recommendations.

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Bill Rappaport

Though the council tabled the ordinance, it also mandated that it be approved no later than today, Friday.

Town Attorney Freda Bisman told the council she would need time to review the ordinance and to talk to water attorneys.

She mentioned having a special meeting next week, but Councilor Bill Rappaport said urgency on this matter is needed.

"Time is of essence in this," he said. "On Thursday (there are) things that could change everything."

He said all of this could come to a head on Thursday, alluding to the Payson Town Council meeting that night to discuss water and growth.

The ordinance reads that water required to meet the requirements of the town Safe Yield Study is not to be allowed to be withdrawn for use outside of the town. It also states that water is necessary to provide for the usual daily operation of the municipality and immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and general welfare of the municipality. The ordinance will take effect immediately upon passage.

The ordinance has three sections, including:

  • No water to be drawn from the wells in the town if such use will lower the available use to less than the amount as identified in the Star Valley Safe Yield Study except when allowed by the council.
  • Any person found guilty of violating any provision of the ordinance would be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and for every day that a violation continues would result in a separate offense.
  • The immediate operation of this provision of this ordinance is necessary for the preservation of public health, safety and welfare of the community in which an emergency would be needed so it would take effect immediately.

Rappaport said the ordinance would be a valuable addition to add more teeth to the fight against people who tried to take water from Star Valley wells for use in outlying areas.

"We need to put this in place," he said, adding people taking water out of the community would lower the water available for the needs of Star Valley residents.

Mayor Chuck Heron mentioned Star Valley was working with Payson on a cooperative agreement on a Safe Yield Study scheduled for completion in January 2006. Heron said there are things that need to be done while the review is taking place.

"We are operating now with every well going down," he said, adding the wells of downtown Star Valley are below the safe yield standard.

Council member Mary Ann Kotelnicki said it would be nice to have more teeth on this matter, but wondered how the town could actually enforce such an ordinance.

Heron said that was a good question, before saying the town would need to rely on the diligence of the public to report to them if they observed water being taken out of the town.

Monitoring the water

On Tuesday night, the Star Valley Town Council also approved extending the contract with LFR Inc. for environmental management to continue to monitor the effect of pumping water from the town.

Town Manager Lanny Sloan said the cost may not exceed $16,332.

The council also approved purchasing three additional Piezometers with associated equipment at a cost of just over $3,600 that would be used to monitor wells on the east side of town.

In other action, the council:

  • Approved that voters in 2008 will decide on staggered terms of the council as well as whether the mayor should be elected by the public or appointed by the council.
  • Approved placing the question concerning the APS franchise agreement on the November 2006 election ballot.
  • Approved the 2006-2007 fiscal-year budget for $1.178 million with another $247,000 coming from the highway user fund.

-- To reach Michael Maresh call 474-5251 ext. 112 or e-mail mmaresh@payson.com.

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