Moab City, Grand County and the Grand Water and Sewer Service Agency (GWSSA) were all notified in early 2016 that over 400 equivalent residential units (ERUs) were either under construction or approved for construction and that these ERUs would probably be added to the old sewer plant. This was an increase of almost 20 percent of current connections. The city had experienced two months in late 2014 when the plant could not handle the current needs of Moab, and the effluent that was discharged into the Colorado River was above Utah state limits. The new hotel on Main Street added over 100 ERUs several months ago. The city was asked to consider a moratorium on new connections in March.
A moratorium on sewer connections may result in millions of dollars of lawsuits from developers who have invested in construction projects. Both the county and the city are currently researching their liability for promising sewer service that they may not be able to provide.
Any exemptions for Realtors and developers to the sewer moratorium will only increase the liability to county and city residents.
The explosion of new hotels and condominiums in Grand County has been approved without an adequate review of the water available from the Glen Canyon Aquifer. Both GWSSA and San Juan County received thousands of acre feet of paper water rights based on the old assumption that an underground river of approximately 13,000 acre feet was flowing over the Moab Fault and into the Colorado River. The ongoing USGS study found little or no underground water flowing into the Colorado River. Based on the study our estimated available water for future growth has been reduced by almost 50 percent. The city, county, GWSSA and state have decided to ignore the loss of the 13,000 acre feet in estimated water and postpone addressing the problem of water for the next two years when the USGS study is completed.
The moratorium for sewer connections needs to include a moratorium for water connections until the USGS water study is completed.