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Oakley Places Hold On New Construction Due To Water Worries

OAKLEY, Utah — The town of Oakley, which is home to about 1,700 people, has enacted a moratorium on new construction until more water is available.

Dallas Hansen, the town’s water operator, said he recommended the move to the city council months ago.

“It was really tough,” he said.

But the council agreed, saying, “We could see the writing on the wall and we wanted to make sure we were a little ahead of it.”

Hansen said it was time to figure out what to do to ensure the current residents of the town had what they needed after a dry 2020 summer, followed by this winter’s light snowpack and spring with very little moisture.

That includes everything from drinking water to fighting a fire if that happens.

The council took some heat for the decision, but Hansen said residents were on board to temporarily stop building in Oakley, once they heard the explanation.

And help could be on the way.

The city will start drilling a well in November. It should be completed by January or February 2022.

If everything goes as planned, the well could be the answer to the town’s water problems for the foreseeable future.

The well is expected to generate 1,500 to 2,000 gallons of water per minute from water 2000 feet below ground. That’s water that won’t dry up from a year or two of drought. In fact, that would solve the water issues for the next 20 years in the town.

But it won’t come cheap — the project will cost between $2 and $2.5 million, which the city will pay for with bonds and loans.

“We know it’s terrible not to let people build, but also the bottom line is we have to make sure there’s water for the existing people in town,” Hansen said. He said 35 permits that are pending will likely move forward at some point, likely next summer.

The moratorium is set to expire in November but could be extended for another six months.

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