Oakley, Utah, adds new water source and lifts development freeze

Mar 26, 2024, 8:00 AM

FILE: 8D Ranch is pictured as owner Kris Getzie walks down a hill at the ranch in Oakley, Summit Co...

FILE: 8D Ranch is pictured as owner Kris Getzie walks down a hill at the ranch in Oakley, Summit County, on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. (Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News)

(Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News)

OAKLEY, Utah — A development freeze in Oakley, Utah, a city in Summit County, has been lifted now that the city has built a new and deeper water well.

Oakley barred all construction that required water hookups for the last 3 years. And the reason is water. Like much of Utah, Oakley struggles with having enough of it.


Almost 1,600 people live in Oakley according to the latest U.S. Census data. Most of them are farmers and ranchers. The city’s problem is providing enough culinary water, and there was also a concern about having enough water to fight fires. Especially in years when the town is experiencing drought.

“We’ve been able to drill a new well,” said City Planner Stephanie Woolstenhulme, “and though it’s not fully operational yet, it will be by the time any (new) development takes place in the near future.”

Like other small Utah towns, city managers and residents don’t necessarily want a big boom in development. Woolstenhulme said the plan is to be deliberate and smart and to keep the mountain city relatively small.

“Oakley’s goal is … to sustain the residents that we do have and to slowly grow in a smart methodical way,” she said. “The new well will hopefully allow us to do that.”

Namely, Woolstenhulme said they expect existing residents with families to subdivide their land for their own families.

We don’t see large-scale developments in Oakley.” 

In 2021, after prompting from town water officials, Oakley residents agreed to a building moratorium, reported KSL TV. At that time, officials explained that a new well could generate up to 2,000 gallons of water per minute from a well located 2,000 feet below ground, KSL TV reported.

At that time, KSL TV reported the project would come with a price tag of as much as $2.5 million.

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Oakley, Utah, adds new water source and lifts development freeze