Water matters, illegal shooting, helicopter noise among City Council discussion items

CEDAR CITY – The Cedar City Council Chambers overflowed with community members Wednesday night as council members discuss topics from insurance amendments and city shooting ordinances to helicopter noise pollution and the 2014 water report.

Water report

Leading into the meeting with the water report, Cedar City Senior Engineer Jonathan Stathis filled in the council and city administration on trends pertaining to pumping costs, water rights, water quality, water rates, aquifers and more.

According to the report, the current water system serves about 29,162 people and covers an area of 36.01 square miles. To service this number of people, the city relies on 11 storage tanks to provide culinary water, as well as the Lake at the Hills and a pond at Cedar Ridge Golf Course for irrigation water.

At its maximum pumping capacity, Stathis said, the system is capable of pumping up to 20,808,000 gallons of water in a given day. So far, however, the system has never been pushed to that limit. On the hottest day of any given summer, he said, water usage has peaked at about 13-14 million gallons in a single day of usage.

The cost for pumping this water was $651,761.67 in 2014, which was over $100,000 more than the year before. Stathis said the cost increase was partially attributed to the need to pump more water from the aquifers due to a lack of snowpack on the mountain in the winter and rain shortage in the summer. Power rates have slightly increased, contributing to the cost hike, as well.

Insurance matters

Utah Risk Management Mutual Association CEO Paul Johnson addressed the council asking members to consider amending the interlocal insurance agreement to include noncity entities, or special service districts. Nineteen cities are currently participants in the interlocal agreement.

The amendment has to be accepted unanimously by each municipality in the agreement before any change can occur, Johnson said, but once the amendment is in place it would open up the opportunity for all special services districts to ask to become part of the district.

A fire district that has requested permission to join is the Enterprise fire district, Johnson said, adding that he was not asking for a final consideration but is rather visiting each municipality to plant the seed and see if the idea would grow.

“Special service districts come in many varieties,” he said. “There are fire districts, and that one that has requested to join is a fire district that is very small – not necessarily in size, but in operations.”

Helicopter nuisance

During the public comment portion of the meeting, one Cedar City resident asked the council to help control excessive noise pollution coming from helicopters at Upper Limit Aviation. He said the noise continues to grow as the number of student pilots looking to certify does.

Council members acknowledged the flight school’s program has grown significantly in the past two years and, with it, the noise nuisance. They said a lot of variables come into play that dictate regulatory flight patterns for the helicopter pilots, and that may change in the future if the flight school is able to move its operation more to the west.

Will (the noise) change when they move further out west?” Councilman Don Marchant said. “We hope it does, because it’ll take everything in that direction, and the flight pattern won’t be nearly as intrusive on our airport.”

Multiple agencies, including Southern Utah University, Cedar City Corporation and the Cedar City Regional Airport, are involved in the implementation and execution of running the flight school program. This makes it a more complex issue when considering a major move, Marchant said, asking the resident to be patient as the city works to find a solution that will make everyone involved happy. He said a degree of compromise may be needed from all of the parties involved.

“Hopefully we can come to some kind of a consensus where it’s a mutual understanding of what’s really going on,” he said.

Illegal shooting

Moving on, the same resident asked the council about rules regarding shooting within city limits and whether it was legal to shoot in the Thunderbird Gardens area. As the weather warms, he said, the firearms begin to blast, adding noise to an otherwise quiet area and endangering hikers and equestrians.

Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson assured him that not only is shooting not allowed in and around the Thunderbird Gardens area, but the city and the BLM are planning to post “no shooting” signs in the area within the next two weeks.

As the trail system continues to develop, the city has become more and more concerned with the level of dumping and partying that takes place in the Thunderbird Gardens area, as well, and Wilson said they are committed to changing the environment in the area.

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