John Groo, the town’s water rights agent, submitted a report to draw attention to issues that exist with the town’s Water User Agreement (WUA) and suggested possible solutions for further discussion. He said that the report was one element of a process that he hopes will lead to the creation of a water master plan later this year that will guide future council actions with respect to water rights and supply, water quality and watershed protection.
The WUA has been in use since the town first acquired water rights and began allocating water from those rights to property owners. The first WAU was created by a Salt Lake City attorney and was used by the town from 1990 until 2009. According to the report, in 2009, because of a regional water adjudication by the Utah Division of Water Rights and a dispute with DWR regarding some past filings, the town was granted Public Water Supplier status by the state. As a result of those events and with the guidance of the town’s attorney at the time, a new WUA was created and the town council passed Resolution 2009-4, which specified new methods and guidelines for management of water rights and mandated the replacement of all previous water user agreements with the newly created WUA.
Groo submitted a lengthy list of issues to be resolved and suggested updating the policies and procedures for WUA administration, creating a new version of the WUA to incorporate the changes in policies and procedures, mandating replacement of existing WUAs with the new version, voiding all existing recordings, and recording a “Certificate of Allocation” for each lot that completes the new version of the WUA. He said the ideas at this point are simply proposed for discussion and there would have to be discussions with a qualified attorney and the Utah Division of Water Rights before any substantial action could be taken.
He also suggested hiring attorney Jonathon Clyde to guide the town on matters pertaining to water issues. He met with Clyde and said he is knowledgeable and seems to appreciate the town’s quirks and he is associated with an established firm, started by his father, that has deep resources of knowledge and experience in areas that are important to Castle Valley.
Later in the meeting under a separate agenda item, the council discussed retaining Jonathon Clyde’s law firm but balked at the $2,000 retainer fee. Council member Tory Hill questioned why a retainer was required since the town always pays its bills. She said the town will have trouble balancing the budget, largely because of major road equipment repair bills this year. She suggested discussing the matter with the firm, but also suggested paying $1,000 now and another $1,000 in the new fiscal year. In the end, the council approved that motion.
Castle Valley Road Manager Greg Halliday stated during his report that the road over lower Placer Creek in the upper 80s section of the valley washed out last week. He said the combination of warm weather and the resulting melting snow, plus rain, combined to create heavy runoff. He said that this is the earliest the road has washed out since he has been on the job.
There were two applicants for the position of the town’s representative to the Grand County Solid Waste District. Bob Greenberg, who lives in Moab but also shares a home with his wife in Castle Valley, expressed his desire to represent the town. He said that there are important changes in store for the district and, as a former county council member, he had the experience necessary to represent the town. Diane Ackerman also expressed desire to serve, stating that she wants to volunteer her time and has an interest in solid waste. She was asked to serve as an alternate to Greenberg.
The town received the new general plan document from the Castle Valley Planning and Land Use Commission. After a few changes, Mayor Dave Erley suggested that the council view the document and get familiar with it in preparation for a public hearing and a final vote.
April 5 has been set for the annual spring clean-up day in Castle Valley. The day might also be a public outreach day involving the Firewise program, and there is also an effort to have the wood chipper here close to that same time to handle all of our cleanup chores.
The town council is also in the process of discussing and approving a list of needs for the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB). Mayor Erley said the council needs to get the town’s priorities listed within the next two to three months, in time to get on the list for grants or low-interest loans from the board. Among the projects on the list will be funding for a new culvert under Castle Valley Drive at Castle Creek. Mayor Erley also wants to start a matching fund account to have some leverage when asking for CIB funds.
The council also discussed participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as a result of a presentation from John Crofts, director of the NFIP, two weeks ago. They thought that being a Level “A” community has more advantages than disadvantages and would help people get flood insurance easier, but the subject is still in the discussion phase.