The Grand County Commission reinstated a six-month moratorium on new water connections in Thompson Springs, effective Aug. 1. It’s the third time the body has used a temporary land use regulation to halt development in the small town. County Attorney Christina Sloan explained that the underlying issue is that the town relies on surface water sources that have been decreasingly productive over the past two decades or longer.

A recent study found that Thompson Springs has a 40% water deficit, “which is serious,” Sloan said. The Thompson Special Service District has been working to resolve their water issue. The body applied to the Bureau of Land Management for permission to develop another spring to supply water to the town; they’re also exploring a possible future deal in which the district would inherit infrastructure and rights used to bring water from the Green River to Crescent Junction to serve the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action project, once the UMTRA project is complete (possibly within the next several years). The TSSD is also considering trying to buy water rights from area property owners.

“None of that has moved forward,” Sloan said, noting that the BLM’s review of the application to develop the spring is likely to take more than six months.

“We’re looking at a whole lot of work going forward,” she said.

The moratorium prohibits new development that requires new water connections; it does not prohibit new development where water connections have already been approved. Sloan noted that the TSSD, the BLM, and the state Division of Environmental Quality all support the moratorium.