Town explores new Fremont Lake management

Cali O'Hare photo

PINEDALE – Pinedale Mayor Matt Murdock presented a plan to form a new reservoir association to manage water use in Fremont Lake at the town council’s Sept. 12 meeting.

The proposal would create a single entity to oversee Fremont Lake’s resources, replacing the “loose group” affiliated under the Fremont Lake User’s Group that currently administers the water, Murdock explained. A single reservoir company would also establish a more efficient framework to supervise and allocate water, he added.

Councilmembers passed a unanimous motion to approve a scope of work and fee schedule drafted by attorneys at Davis and Cannon, LLP, to represent the town and the Pine Creek and Highland ditch associations and incorporate a new association to streamline “storage and release of water” in Fremont Lake.

Multiple discussions about creating a reservoir association took place over the years, Murdock said. Both the Highland and Pine Creek ditch associations were “fully on board” with the proposal, Murdock told the council.

The town owns approximately 60 percent of water rights in Fremont Lake behind the dam, Murdock said. The ditch associations and individuals own the remaining shares.

As the only public government entity involved in Fremont Lake’s management, the town took the lead in forming the new reservoir association, Murdock told the Roundup.

Each organization and individual with water rights to Fremont Lake would become members of the new association based on the proportion of their ownership, Murdock explained. The attorneys at Davis and Cannon are tasked with delving through the complex maze of water rights documents to fairly balance control among the various shareholders in the new reservoir association, Murdock said.

Davis and Cannon bring years of experience to the table representing entities in large projects involving intricate water rights and laws in the region, said Ed Wood, town attorney.

The new reservoir association would also allow greater local control over Fremont Lake’s water resources, according to Murdock, particularly in dealing with the U.S. Forest Service over fees assessed for the use of the dam.

Members of the existing Fremont Lake User’s Group will continue to be involved in the process, Murdock told the council.

New LED lights

The Town Council passed a 5-0 motion approving a bid from Rocky Mountain Power to replace all streetlights in Pinedale with new LED fixtures.

Funds for the project will eventually come from town reserves, and the council will amend its budget at a later date. Rocky Mountain Power’s estimated project cost came in at around $45,000, Murdock told the Roundup.

LED lighting will save the town $13,000 per year in its electrical bill while decreasing light pollution in town, Murdock said. He called the project a “strategic investment.”

The scope of work includes replacing each of the 206 light fixtures (not poles) in Pinedale, said Abram Pearce, director of public works.

Plans to install LED lighting were discussed by the council eight or nine years ago and “have been on the town’s radar for awhile,” said Councilman Tyler Swafford. LED lights at the new Dudley Key Sports Complex were a significant improvement and made a “great difference” in hosting events after dark, Swafford added.

The council also approved the purchase and installation of up to six water filtration systems from Benchmark Plumbing and Heating not to exceed $3,450 for the entire project.

At each location, town staff is taking what Pearce called a "wellness" sample to provide a baseline to compare the amounts of sediment in town water wells and Fremont Lake.

Pearce said the town is not "overly concerned" about picking up anything "unanticipated" in the tests. The town is currently in "good standing" with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, he added.

The filtration systems will be distributed evenly across Pinedale's four quadrants, said Pearce.




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