A heated discussion ensued at the county council meeting on Tuesday as the council considered, for the third time, the Rose Hill well land use agreement between the county and Wilkinson Cottonwood Water Company.
Wilkinson has been working to remedy a water quality problem faced by their customers for the past few years. One of the wells supplying the water company’s customers has high levels of nitrates and makes the water unsafe for infants to consume. The solution being pursued by the water company is to bring another well online to dilute the water from the problematic well and bring the water into safe levels of nitrates.
Wilkinson began the process of requesting the land user permit from the county earlier this year and has grown increasingly frustrated with the county as the issue has remained unresolved over the past three council meetings. That frustration boiled over in the discussions on Tuesday when the water company accused the council of being the only remaining body standing in the way of the new well and safe water for county residents. They said, “We have every agreement except the county’s and you’re holding up this well that the people and they are having to drink water that has nitrate in it.”
Members of the council took exception to this statement. Given some of the problems created by agreements that the county has executed in the past, the council is taking time to ensure that this agreement will not cause problems in the future and create liability for the tax payers.
The county engineer has expressed concerns over the language in the agreement and the proximity of the well to county roads. His communication to the council has outlined concerns that the runoff from the road could create liability for the county based on the language in the agreement. He has proposed solutions to the water company to control the run off from the roads and provide protection for the county. The water company has disagreed with the conclusions of the engineer.
Chairman Creager expressed frustration with the water company’s approach to solving this problem. He said, “What ends up happening is that you as an applicant continue to come before the council and say, ‘Sign this. We are not going to change much, we are not going to do anything. We are not going to rectify the sides of the road, we are not going to enhance the safety of this. We are just going to continue to come and wear you down until you sign this; and publicly we are going to blame you for the Mountain Green citizens drinking nitrates.’” Creager commented that the county engineer had met with representatives of the water company multiple times and that the water company had not addressed the issues raised by him before they returned to the council.
The council decided that the best approach would be a work session with the water company, the council, and the county engineer to explore ways to either adjust the language of the contract, to find a solution to remediate potential problems, or to implement a combination of both solutions. The council hopes to meet either at the end of the week or early next week. This will hopefully bring the agreement to a close and put the water company on a path to bring the well online and solve a long-standing issue of water quality for some residents of Mountain Green.