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Utah County Commission allocates $50 million for local water projects

By Kelcie Hartley - | Jun 22, 2022

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

A trickling filter operates at the Provo Wastewater Treatment Plant on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.

On June 8, the Utah County Commission selected 10 projects to fund as part of the Utah County Water Project Award Program. The commissioners budgeted $50 million of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funds for the projects.

The American Rescue Plan, commonly referred to as the COVID-19 Stimulus Package, totaled $1.9 billion designed to aid the country after the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Approximately $126 million was requested in Utah County for water-related projects. It took several months for the commissioners to come to a decision about which projects were best suited for investments.

According to the applicant letter, sent out by the commissioners, 22 groups applied to the program with all of them meeting the requirements to be considered.

According to Commissioner Bill Lee, a grants team overlooked each project proposal and scored them based on certain criteria. Proposals had to meet both ARPA requirements and guidelines set by the commissioners.

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

Pieces of unidentifiable non-toxic waste float in a clarifier Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, at the Orem Wastewater Treatment Plant. The waste isn't hazardous, but appears about once a week in large amounts and clogs up the water treatment system.

The projects had to manage the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic, contain long-term infrastructure upgrades that coincide with ARPA priorities and contain new projects that align with ARPA — but won’t encumber the county beyond 2024.

One federal requirement is that all funds must be allocated by 2024, and spent by 2025. Lee said the county was looking for projects that were “shovel ready” for that reason.

Commissioners set their own priorities based on the specific needs of Utah County, including:

  • The project supports innovative solutions related to water.
  • Projects handle drought or climate change in a way that enhances community resilience.
  • Projects had a multi-generational benefit and clear long-term benefits that are defined and measurable.
  • Projects should seek to serve disproportionately impacted communities.

Lee said many variables had to be taken into consideration when deciding which projects to fund. The commissioners also wanted to know how much of the county’s population would be affected by each project. Lee said impact size was not a requirement — if it were, then all funds would be given to larger cities.

The goal of providing funds to various projects was to give support, not to fund the project entirely, according to Lee.

Mark Johnston, Daily Herald file photo

Kim Webb, an operator at the Timpanogos Special Service District, dips a measuring tube to check the level of return activated sludge in a clarifier at the wastewater treatment plant in American Fork Thursday, March 11, 2010.

Near the end of the selection process, the commissioners asked several entities to meet and discuss project details and additional funding. Lee said the commission wanted to make sure the projects wouldn’t flop without the county funds.

“We asked each entity what their dollar request was and what would their minimum request be and why,” Lee told the Daily Herald. “No one on the approved list received the full amount they asked for except for maybe one or two of the smaller requests.”

According to the applicant letter, the awardees spread across Utah County. The following projects received funding:

  • Provo was awarded $14 million. The city proposed an aquifer storage and recovery project including a 20 million gallon per day culinary water treatment plant and will clean water diverted from the Provo River.
  • Central Utah Water Conservancy District was awarded $10 million for a groundwater recharge site, which benefits multiple cities in Utah County.
  • Orem was awarded $7 million for construction of a new tertiary treatment and water delivery system.
  • Santaquin was awarded $3 million to move one-third of city residents to reclaimed wastewater treatment source for irrigation purposes.
  • Spanish Fork was awarded $5 million construction of a new wastewater treatment plant.
  • Timpanogos Special Service District was awarded $4 million to implement water recycling by treating effluent water for beneficial use.
  • Vineyard was awarded $2 million to build out a water system to connect with CUWCD, Orem and Lindon.
  • Eagle Mountain was awarded $500,000 to expand its wastewater treatment plant.
  • Goshen was awarded $1.4 million to assist in building out and strengthening the city’s existing water delivering system to accommodate high growth.
  • Genola was awarded approximately $143,000 so the city can have well-monitoring software to better serve potential high growth areas.

Provo Public Works drills down for aquifer studies on April 7, 2020.

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