Summit County will no longer sell water for hot tubs to property owners but will honor existing contracts

A guest hot tub area and a mural painted by a local artist are pictured Aug. 11, 2022. Summit County officials, during a March 7, 2023 meeting, supported ending county sales to property owners for hot tub use, citing environmental concerns.
Tripp Fay/Summit Daily News archive

Citing a dwindling water supply brought on by the environmental pressures of climate change, Summit County officials will no longer sell water to property owners seeking to use it for hot tubs except for existing contracts. 

“While water augmentation for hot tubs forms a relatively small percentage of the uses that Summit County’s water is put to, given all of the recent and well documented statewide and national concerns around drought, water supply, and the mountain west, it seemed an appropriate time to reconsider,” stated a March 7 memo from county staff

The decision came during a March 7 Summit Board of County Commissioners meeting during which Deputy County Attorney Keely Ambrose pitched removing hot tub eligibility from the county’s Water Augmentation Program

“In light of various environmental concerns, in light of concerns regarding the amount of water that hot tubs are currently using versus the amount of water that our plan actually assumes is used by hot tubs,” the county should consider removal of its hot tub provision in its water plan, Ambrose said. 

Ambrose added that the move is in line with the “county’s goals and climate action plan.” According to the staff memo, hot tubs can be a major source of energy use, citing a 2004 study conducted in San Francisco that found hot tubs are “generally the largest electrical consumer in the average home.”

The change, supported unanimously by commissioners, will not impact current contracts for hot tub users, according to Ambrose, but will prohibit future sales. It will have no impact on sales between property owners and private water providers.

The action is needed, said Commissioner Josh Blanchard, as “the state and the West, in general, is facing significant water challenges.”

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