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Water prices flux throughout Davis County

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(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) West Bountiful resident Kelly Enquist holds two bottles of water that have been filled from his kitchen faucet in the last year. One bottle is full of the clean water he gets on a daily basis and the other bottle is orangish, iron enriched water that poured on two different occasions from his faucet when the city switched the water source from Weber Basin Water Conservancy District to a city owned well not far from Enquist's home.

By Jonah Napoli

Special to The Tribune

First published May 23 2013 10:38AM
Updated May 23, 2013 09:41PM

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West Bountiful • Residents here pay at least $63 a month for water, and even though other Davis County communities get their water from the same place, they don’t all pay the same.

Homes and businesses in Clearfield pay just $11.53 a month, no matter how much water they use. Up the road in Clinton, water users pay $69.95 a month, and more if they pour and spray more than 10,000 gallons a month.

Why the differences?

"It all depends on the infrastructure required to get the water to the residences," said Scott Paxman, assistant general manager over water supply for the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District. "Every city is going to be a little different on their pricing structure."

Located in Layton, Weber Basin Water supplies water to Davis County, as well as four other counties in northern Utah. Municipalities buy the water from Weber Basin Water.

Some cities’ locations require more piping to deliver the water, adding to the price consumers must pay. Aging pipes can increase cost, too.

A newsletter sent to the residents of West Bountiful in March explained their monthly water bill is comprised of $22 in operating costs, an $18 fee that repays a city-wide bond and a $23 fee collected to replace about 6 ½ miles of pipe.

Kelly Enquist, a West Bountiful resident who attended public hearings on water rates as they were being debated in 2010, called the monthly bills "exorbitant."

"There was a public outcry, especially at the public hearing, but the city council voted for it," Enquist said.

West Bountiful residents can expect to pay the pipe replacement cost through spring of 2014, while the bond payment is scheduled to remain until August of 2024.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a 2009 study showed the national average cost of water was $2 for every 1,000 gallons. West Bountiful residents pay an average of $7.88, the highest in Davis County.

There can be other pipe and pump factors influencing cost, even within a city. Bountiful charges residents in the lower elevations $10.73 a month and people in higher elevations $11.82 a month.

Centerville also has two rates: $18.47 for the ¾-inch pipe or $41.89 for a 1-inch pipe. But Centerville is one of the cities which does not charge additional fees based on how much water is used.

North Salt Lake charges $23 a month if the home or business has a ¾-inch intake pipe. If it’s a 1-inch intake pipe, North Salt Lake charges a rate of $32.30 per month. Both sets pay additional fees if they exceed 8,000 gallons in a month.

North Salt Lake resident Janna Gebhart says she has received bills ranging from $47 to $60 a month, though she insists her home doesn’t use much water.

"For water usage, it just seems high," Gebhart said. "The thing is, I don’t know what could be done to make it better."

closeup@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribDavis

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