Water Documenters: Read meeting notes from the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake & Sandy

The Feb. 26 meeting covered the issuance of water bonds and contracting with consultants.

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Tom Godfrey - Chair

John Kirkham - Vice Chair

Patricia Comarell - Secretary

John Mabey Jr. - Chair of Management Advisory Committee

Donald Milne - Chair of Engineering Committee

Joan Degiorgio - Chair of Environmental Committee

Cindy Cromer

Update on vision statement:

Since the last meeting on January 22, Patricia Comarell, the board secretary, conducted interviews with managers and board members to understand what the vision should represent. One key aspect of the vision statement was to convey being a good neighbor. There were multiple times during this meeting where public relations were brought up, showing it was a clear priority for the board. The current vision statement is “The District is dedicated to providing high-quality water and reliable services to our customers in a safe, timely, economical, and environmentally sensitive manner. We promote the wise, long-term, and sustainable use of water resources. We accomplish this by effectively managing valuable resources, utilizing practical technologies, and providing employees with opportunities for growth and achievement.” Since the statement was developed in 2007, Annalee Munsey, the general manager of the district felt that the vision statement could be updated and more concise.

Consulting agreement for alternate funding sources:

As addressed through the Multi-hazard Mitigation Plan and other previous meetings, several projects over the next few years will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The district needs to identify other ways to get funding, so they are reaching out to consultants. Three consulting groups responded to the water district’s outreach, but one consulting group retracted their application. The focus areas for the consultant noted in the board packet are “Program management, information gathering, identifying funding options, and preparing and tracking applications”. The engineering committee recommends that the board “award a professional services agreement to AE2S”. This contract would last until the summer of 2029. The contract was later awarded to AE2S after a committee vote.

Consulting agreement for community relations services:

This agreement was for a consulting group to improve public relations for the water district. Six consulting groups applied, and three were interviewed by the water district. This contract lasts 5 years. Any tasks that are over $50,000 will require board approval. The board anticipates that the consultant may exceed $50,000 in any of the years during their contract. The engineering committee recommended Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., which was later confirmed by a committee vote.

Approval of contracts for Salt Lake Aqueduct Replacement - Cottonwood Conduit Project (SLAR-CC):

These contracts were for construction on the SLAR-CC project, which consists of 3 separate conduits. According to the board packet, “The Engineering Committee forwards a positive recommendation to award $13,059,522.88 to COP Construction for the construction of CC-1 and CC-2 and $57,269,309.09 to Whitaker Construction for construction of the SLAR. Salt Lake City will be reimbursed for the COP Construction contract”. Salt Lake City will reimburse $4,500,000 of the capital transfer of the total 5 million. This is a new budget line item.

Present the water conservation plan:

As per the Water Conservation Act of 2023, the water district must submit a water conservation plan. This plan addresses potential needs within the water district and member cities through the year 2060. Scenarios for water conservation involved more efficient shower heads, washing machines, toilets, and different landscaping patterns. The board packet states, “Water conservation is a major priority for SLC”. To address this priority, the plan involved educating the community on how to conserve water, potential legal changes like ordinances for people who water their lawns daily, research potential ways to improve water management, use of AMI technologies to inform water users about their usage, and offer rebates for people who upgrade to water-efficient appliances. No public comments were made during this public hearing.

Approval of the issue of water bonds:

Johnathan Ward, a consultant from Zions Bank, emphasized that the board listens to what the public has to say because they do not need to vote on the bonds at that current moment. There was only one resident to speak, Steve Van Maren, a resident of Sandy, who wanted more information on the bonds. Van Maren was interested in investing in bonds, but he thought that the interest gained on the bonds of 1% “seemed low”. The board accepted that the interest rate may be low. This hearing lasted approximately 3 minutes. Ward explained that since the bond interest percentage is 1%, they can borrow at 4% and have a lower effective borrowing rate of 3%. The total amount of water bonds approved was $56 million and the bonds would reach maturity in 2049.

Additional notes:

The amount of snow we have is not as high as last year, but still 108% of previous years. The major Utah reservoirs are above 80% capacity, which is a good sign. Utah Lake is at full capacity, so water is being sent downriver. Annalee Munsey, the general manager of the district, said that it has been a long time since the gates for Utah Lake opened.

There was a slight disagreement between board members Cindy Cromer and Patricia Comarell over whether they should receive emails directly. The current system involves Annalee Munsey forwarding emails to board members, but Patricia Comarell wished that community members should be able to reach her directly, saying “My concern is transparency”. Cindy Cromer, a member of the board of trustees, appreciated that there was a person in-between and explained that she has had community members show up at her house.

What passed:

  • Approval of consultant agreement for alternative funding sources – Tab 2

  • Approval of consultant agreement for community relations and public – Tab 2

  • Approval of cooperation agreement with City of Cottonwood Heights – Tab 2

  • Approval of construction contract for SLAR-CC project – Tab 2

  • Approval of ESDC contract for SLAR-CC project Tab 2

  • Approval of capital transfer for SLAR-CC Tab 2

  • Approval of Board Meeting minutes dated January 24, 2024 –Tab 3

  • Acceptance of financial reports – Tab 4

  • Approval of changes to Policies and Procedures Chapter 3, Fiscal and Budget – Tab 2

  • Closure of Public Hearing Relating to the Issuance of up to $56 Million of Water Revenue Bonds

  • Closure of Public Hearing Relating to the District’s Water Conservation Plan – Tab 11

  • Approval of Supplemental Resolution 1929 authorizing the issuance of up to $23 million of water revenue bonds; and related matters – Tab 9

  • Approval of Supplemental Resolution 1930 authorizing the issuance of up to $33 million of water revenue bonds; and related matters – Tab 10

  • Approval of resolution 1931 adopting the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake & Sandy Water Conservation Plan 2024 Update – Tab 11

  • Closure of the Session to Discuss Pending or Reasonably Imminent Litigation

Everything passed unanimously.

Water Documenters is a collaboration between The Salt Lake Tribune and City Bureau and funded through grants from the Great Salt Lake Collaborative and the Rita Allen Foundation. College student journalists from all over Utah are hired to attend and take notes at public water meetings in Utah. These notes are then published for anyone to read or use. The project is aimed at providing better public access to meetings where major decisions are made about a limited Utah resource. For more meeting notes, click here. For more information, click here.