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Stockton residents ask questions, express concerns during emergency meeting regarding town's water problems

Posted at 10:06 PM, Aug 25, 2022

STOCKTON, Utah — Residents in Stockton turned out in droves for an emergency meeting Thursday night to discuss the town's major water problems.

The issue stems from the Jacob City Fire, which burned an estimated 4,000 acres in Soldier Canyon back in July. That fire burned areas upstream from the town's water treatment plant.

READ: Stockton residents assess damage from flooding that caused evacuations

The plant was taken out of service due to risks of sediment and debris from the fire contaminating the system.

A letter was put out Wednesday night on social media, where Mayor Nando Meli says the town would have to take out a $3 million loan to replace the system, which would hike water bills up to $96 a month for residents.

Stockton Letter from Mayor Nando Meli

READ: 'My family’s alive': Campers share harrowing story of Jacob City Fire evacuation

As a longtime resident, Rita Tafoya says a proposal to raise monthly water bills to replace the town's nearly 40-year old water treatment plant would have a big impact.

"The residents are mostly older people on fixed incomes and it's hard to come up with extra money when you're on a fixed income," said Tafoya.

Mayor Meli says he's been working since the beginning of the year to get residents to fill out income surveys in order to find alternatives to raising water rates.

"I've had people in the town, and just recently in the last few weeks, knocking on doors trying to get people to fill out income surveys, if we qualify for grant money instead of have to borrow the money to replace or refurbish our treatment plant," said Mayor Meli.

The mayor says with almost 700 residents in the town, they have 270 hookups for water. With the treatment plant out of service, they have been using an emergency well to provide water to the town.

However, the generator the town is renting to power the well failed earlier this week.

"They spent $5,000 in fuel in four weeks for us running the generator, there's another $8,000 they spent renting it," the mayor said.

A boil advisory has been in place for drinking water on top of the restriction for outdoor water usage.

"We're, by now, having to buy bottled water to drink," said Tafoya. "We're not being able to water, so all these people that have animals and gardens and grasses, they're all dying."

Mayor Meli told FOX 13 News on Thursday he isn't sure how much longer they can get by with the current water treatment plant.

"Something needs to be done, you know, either refurbished or replaced," Meli said.

The treatment plant was built in 1985 and has had a lot of problems with it plugging up due to silt and mud in the water since then.