Emery City Fights for Water Rights

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By Sara Price

Emery City was approached by SUFFCO Mine about eight wells in their possession. The lease had already expired on five wells and three more were coming up. SUFFCO had no intention of renewing the lease because these wells have not been used in over ten years.

The wells were first created as part of an exploratory drilling expedition in an attempt to discover coal beds. Crews hit water and capped them off for future use. These wells are deep, reaching an estimated 3,000 or 4,000 feet deeper than the mine.

Local officials are concerned that the liquid resource is likely from the same water table as Emery City’s water supply. The concern is that someone may pump the entire city dry if the rights are passed on to another entity. Since the lease expires soon, if no one applies for the rights the state may take over the lease forever.

Council members consulted with Mike Stilson who urged the officials to take action. According to Stilson, the engineer certification, which is basically a deed, will cost the city no more than $1,500. Money set aside intended for water source discovery in Emery City may be used to fund this endeavor.

Stilson also advised the council that they will be allowed to apply for the expired leases, even though that is usually not allowed. This will open the way for the city to take possession of these wells and use the water for the benefit of Emery City.

In order to do this, Emery City will have to demonstrate a need for the water. The council believes that this can accomplished even if they show water being pumped out to the mountains and creeks.

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