Click image to view draft copy of long funding Request Letter

Kane County Redevelopment | Brent Chamberlain, Commissioner | Culinary Water | June 2021 | Funding Request Letter

Zion Forever Project | Mark Preiss| Culinary Water | June 2021 | Funding Request Letter

Click here or click on image above to view draft copy of Long Funding Request Letter

Wells for Zion Little Ponderosa

An Economic Analysis of Zion National Park Scenarios

Proposed developments at Zion National Park’s east entrance include the construction of a new visitor center, lodging, and hiking/biking trails along with the deployment of an electric shuttle fleet. This study analyzes the economic impacts of east park improvements on Kane and Washington counties over 10 years by comparing this high investment scenario with a projected baseline scenario

Zion National Park, as part of a public-private partnership, has announced plans to build a visitor contact station on the east side of the park as part of a new gateway community known as the “Applecross Station Visitor Center.”

A concept drawing of the visitor complex to be built on the east side of Zion National Park | Image courtesy of the Zion Forever Project, St. George News

Utah Awards $500,000 To Non-Profit For Mountain Bike Trails East Of Zion National Park

The East Zion Initiative, which includes 24.5 miles of mountain bike trails, would direct Zion National Park visitors out of the main canyon to the east entrance of the park.

Well Alternatives

Zion Landowners are looking at three alternatives for water sourcing. Click on “Download below for a “Feasibility Cost Comparison” of the three alternatives.

Multiple Neighborhood “Private” Wells

(Alternative 1).  An infrastructure for a water system of independent (stand-alone Clusters) neighborhood wells. Estimates include a build-out of seven to twenty-one wells either privately owned or owned by the community. Each well system within two miles of the Zion border would be limited to seven connections and 25 concurrent occupants per day. Please review the following considerations including opportunities and challenges associated with Alternative 1.

It is not a given that landowners could in fact drill multiple wells without hitting dry holes adding to well drilling expense

The current very high level feasibility analysis (prepared for forecasting not budgeting) recognizes a “dry well incidence” of 10%. It’s based on SWAG methodology and has little reference to historical drilling patterns in recent years in the Ponderosa Ranch area.

Increased possibility of accidently draining a shallow perched Aquifer

More shallow wells would have to be drilled into the “perched aquifer” which makes Alternative 1 a questionable wide spread implementation because of the numerous shallow wells needed.

Water, when found is much harder water than what landowners are currently getting from hauled water

Excellent quality water being used by ZLP (Zion Little Ponderosa) landowners today is sourced from the NSA. The Navajo Sandstone Aquifer (NSA) was accessed at over 2000 feet deep on the Zion Mtn Ranch (ZMR) which though within a few miles from LPR is at a much lower in elevation. Prior hydrological studies have indicated that the NSA tips downward as it extends under the LPR. This tipping characteristic plus a significant elevation drop between LPR and ZMR strongly suggests that a much much deeper well would need to be punched than the 2500[+-] foot well on ZMR in order to reach the NSA, The simple definition of water hardness is the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the waterHard water is high in dissolved minerals, largely calcium and magnesium. … When hard water is heated, such as in a home water heater, solid deposits of calcium carbonate can form.

More wells means more moving parts and more opportunities for failure

Steve Neeleman says, “Pump motors are notorious for failing. The point I am trying to convey is that while multiple private wells may be a viable option, it probably isn’t as easy as it seems”. At least one landowner is quoted as saying, “I replace at least one pump per year on his property well systems”. He goes on to quote in 2020, “it was a 3 pump year”. Quality spare pumps are an absolute necessity when you need to pressurize a water line from any source. Maintenance resources including spare parts have to be at the “ready” all the time to achieve “water availability” service level that are expected by today’s society.

New Ponderosa Area “Public” Well(s) – Economies of Scale

(Alternative 2). A community water sourcing method that supports higher capacity well design to be located just outside the two mile limitation from Zion National Park borderline, on Ponderosa or Little Ponderosa property. Economies of scale are the key advantage in this alternative. In addition, it qualifies as a “Public Water System”. Please review the opportunities and challenges with Alternative 2 below.

Significant cost of bringing water lines in from the new Well(s) to the holding tanks which we tentatively penciled in as being located on the top of the LPR’s South Knoll.

During the feasibility study phase these lines we considered in light of filling the water tank(s) at night during periods of low water use. Tank sizing considerations included a three day supply of water to compensate for high period consumption days and/or failure anywhere in the water supply infrastructure upstream of the Tank.

Excessive drilling cost to reach the better water in Navajo Sandstone Aquifer from LPR drilling site.

The Navajo Sandstone Aquifer was located at over 2000 feet deep on the Zion Mtn Ranch which though within a few miles from LPR is much lower in elevation. Prior hydrological studies have indicated that the NSA tips downward as it extends under the LPR. This tipping characteristic plus a significant elevation drop between LPR and ZMR strongly suggests that a much much deeper well would need to be punched than the 2500 foot well on ZMR.

Locating a suitable drill site immediately outside of the two mile Zion National Park non deep well zone.

Just finding and reserving suitable land, with appropriate protection zones, building a booster shed, etc. will add to both the overall implementation time and cost of Alternative 2.

High levels of infrastructure “Redundancy” will be needed to meet “Availability” Service level demands of modern society.

Remember when the Internet and cell phones were considered optional? Regardless of what age bracket you’re in, just look into your pocket to answer that question. Tourist demands on Zion National Park are increasing at such a rapid pace that ZLP (Zion Little Ponderosa) landowners are literally being run over. Reactive Tourist and Traffic measures are currently being implemented as a defensive reaction. Landowners want to get ahead of the curve and implement initiatives by posturing from a proactive position Tourism demands will put increased pressure on the delicate environment and infrastructure of ZLP (Zion Little Ponderosa). Bottom line in this area is that Water Availability service levels will tax any existing Community Infrastructure. ZLP is currently implementing an organized Community approach to address growth. Redundancy Costs come with the territory. ZLP residents need to plan appropriately to maintain a “Cabin in the Woods” ambiance while embracing a planful approach to demands imposed by increased tourism.

Large Off-Site “Public”Well

(Alternative 3). Large off property Well Infrastructure: Significant expansion of well infrastructure possibly on the McLaw’s, Zion Mtn. Ranch Property. The community would work with East Zion Special Service District and take advantage of economies of scale with current EZSSD (East Zion Special Service District) customers including neighboring Zion Ponderosa Ranch (ZPR) and Zion Ridge (ZR). A third party Water Service Company would be used both for Build-Out and Ongoing Maintenance/Billing. Very preliminary estimates (depending) on number of landowners participating, are in the neighborhood of $35,000 (+ or -) per connection. This would be in addition to an impact fee estimated to be between $10,000 and $15000 when a pressurized waterline with meter is placed on each landowner’s property line. Better numbers are expected after the Engineering Design is completed.

Steve Neeleman (in cooperation with Kevin McLaws) conveyed this message to landowners in May, 2021, “First and foremost, I have had a couple discussions with Kevin McLaws since our discussion. He and I are both willing to spend a few thousand dollars with our engineer to estimate the cost of:

  1. Expanding our water sources (wells) to be able to accommodate ZLP;
  2. Taking right sized water lines through the 10+ miles of roads ZLP;
  3. Adding additional tank storage and booster pumps to accommodate ZLP need.
  4. I spoke with our engineer today and we will engage him to come up with an estimate. I hope we can get back to you with an estimate in the next month or so.”

Opportunities and challenges associated with Alternative 3 follow:

A Significant (huge) cost expenditure is needed. Landowners initial property purchase was into a “dry subdivision” at a “haul your own water” price. Back-in-the-day this wasn’t a problem. Now the majority of landowners want a public water “Community” system. Landowner property values are anticipated to increase in proportion with the overall cost of of Alternative 3.

“We will have a lot more information on this after we do our work with the engineer”, says Steve Neeleman.  Steve is further quoted as, “I am hesitant to put a number out there until we speak with them.  That being said, it is imperative that you explain to your neighbors that the costs are so significant because in order to have water piped to their residences, we need to have the following:

1) water rights;

2) water sources (wells and or springs);

3) protection zones around the sources;

4) large transmission lines to carry the needed water for long distances which causes pressure head;

5) tank storage for fire and high demand flow;

6) ongoing cost for maintenance of pumps, electricity, monitoring of use, maintenance of lines, water quality testing, etc. In an area that is near thousands of other homes, these costs can be shared. In East Zion, there are not very many residences so the cost is much steeper for individual residences”.

“A HUGE thanks to Steve and Kevin from all of us landowners” for this offer to fund “Engineering Design” relative to Water Sourcing, Transmission, and Distribution!!

Download a pdf feasibility level cost comparison for all three alternatives.

Well Planning Assistance

Public Water Systems Service Firms

Initial discussion with those currently involved in Public Water Systems (PWS) recommend that an independent “Water Service Firm” be used for water system (Tanks, pumps, Lines, Meters, etc.). Also, they recommend using the same “Firm” for ongoing maintenance (repairs) and administration (Billing, etc).

DIY (Do it Yourself) implementations are being carefully scrutinized as part of landowner final decision criteria. DIY water infrastructure is fraught with peril not only at buildout but especially with maintenance and administration. At least one landowner is quoted as saying, “take a look at my own private utility system when you have time, it’s a maintenance headache. Further consideration of participating in a shared well ownership with neighbors has it’s downside too going forward.

Landowners are looking for opportunities to leap frog more of these interim solutions we have implemented in the past and focus our efforts and money on permanent implementations. A public water system demands professional engineering, local and state participation, impact fees and a robust tax base from State, County and hopefully from a municipal perspective (more on this specific later) to make it happen.


It’s not surprising that the big issue is MONEY and lots of it. Have you had any experience with grass roots funding? We are interested in discussing with others who have experience with Municipal funding, tax base funding, grants, long term loans, etc? In addition, we are considering a framework whereby Landowners who have extra funds, can get a an attractive ROI . Landowners plan to get “their skin in the game” (purchasing water rights, investing, etc.) to make this successful. We didn’t want to go to outside investors to make this happen. However, It’s clear we have to. Many landowners seized on the opportunity to purchase water rights in May of 2021. The interested landowners are keenly aware that any alternative other than problematic “hauled water” solutions will require an initial investment in “Water Rights”. In addition, to private landowner contracts in place as of May 2021 for water rights, the ZLP (Zion Little Ponderosa) community has an option to buy additional water rights from a seller with transferable water.

Tourism is going to Pay for It

Hiking man drinking water, climber or trail runner in mountains, inspirational landscape. Motivated hiker with red backpack looking at beautiful view. Trekking, travel and tourism concept. Fitness and healthy lifestyle.


Landowners have a BIG vision for LITTLE Ponderosa Ranch and TOURISM is going to pay for it. Think about it … It may take several years, but this is ultimately where the funding will come from. Interested investors and funding service providers are very much being solicitated to help make this happen. Landowners have a broad vision for water in Zion “Little Ponderosa” :

1). Drinking Water and Human Well-Being

2) Economic Activities and Development

3) Water-Related Hazards and Climate Change

4). Ecosystems

Objectives include: Good Governance, TransBoundary Cooperation, Peace and Political Stability, and Financing