Blanding approves Westwater water project
Blanding City Council met twice last week to purchase an acre of land and approve a contract for the Westwater water project.
Earlier this year Blanding city was awarded a principal forgiveness loan of $380,984 from the Utah Division of Drinking Water for the purpose of designing and engineering a new deep well.
The well is meant to provide additional water sources to Blanding in order to serve the Westwater community.
Westwater, a community of about 30 homes on Navajo Nation-owned land just outside of Blanding, does not currently have access to culinary water.
The projects to bring water and electricity to Westwater has been funded in most part by the state of Utah through the legislature, with contributions from the Utah Navajo Trust Fund and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The City of Blanding has not paid directly for the project, but City Engineer Terry Ekker has been involved as the city has been a partner by providing power and water to the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority to then provide the utilities to residents of Westwater.
At the March 22 meeting, the Blanding City Council approved a contract with a local engineering firm for the well.
The well will be dug on property adjacent to the Blanding City water treatment plant and will be treated by the city.
Councilmember Erik Grover expressed concerns about a television interview where Utah Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson mentioned finding grants and loans for Blanding to fund the project. Grover said, “I will not vote for a loan for the city unless we’re willing to provide water to every home on this mesa.”
City Manager David Johnson reported that communication with the city and Lt. Governor has been clear on the matter.
Ekker also explained the principal forgiveness loan is really a grant. Ekker said the project is structured so that the state Division of Drinking Water will reimburse the city each month for that period’s expenses related to the Westwater water project.
While the state offered up to $380,000 for the design engineering services, the actual contract to Jones and DeMille Engineering was awarded at $326,000 by the city council.
Councilmember KD Perkins, Len Gasser and Kellen Nielson voted to approve the contract, while Councilmember Grover abstained from the vote. Councilmember Cheryl Bowers was not present at the March 22 meeting.
The council also approved a five-year contract for airport engineering services with Armstrong Consulting Engineers out of the Grand Junction, CO office. Armstrong has been the engineering consultant for the city for over twenty years.
Last week the city council also approved purchase of land that neighbors the city's shop facility.
In a special meeting on Thursday, March 24, the council approved the purchase of the one acre parcel near the corner of 550 N and 600 W for the price of $50,000. The acre on a vacant lot to the west of the city property will allow the city to expand their facilities if needed.
The purchase was approved unanimously by the city council, excluding Councilmember Perkins who was not present at the March 24 meeting.