Pah Tempe: The Past Thirty Years
This is the remarkable true story of one of the most incredible places on earth, Pah Tempe Hot Springs, a spiritual and sacred sanctuary for many native American nations of the South West of the United States. Today it is treasured, enjoyed and honored by visitors from all over the world.
When Ken Anderson almost by accident discovered the Hot Springs 28 years ago, in 1984, he knew intuitively that this severely neglected treasure needed protection and preservation. So he purchased a lease for the property from the owners the Smith family, Genevieve, Sally and Jessie Smith. This lease gave him complete control to develop and operate the Hot Springs property. A few years later Sally sold Ken her one third fee title interest. Jessie and Genevieve kept theirs. When Genevieve passed, Jessie was in control of the remaining two thirds interest and negotiated to sell them to Ken in order to finalize Ken’s fee title ownership in the property.
At this time the property, hidden in the canyon, was a desolate treeless parcel of land where the use of drugs and alcohol predominated. There were only three dilapidated buildings on the very dusty windblown site.
When Ken arrived, the Washington County Water Conservancy District was in the process of putting a six foot diameter concrete steel pipe, about the width of a car, into the bottom of the Virgin river. Within a year the pipeline was installed, which replaced the hundred years old Hurricane canal.
During these months, while the Washington County Water Conservancy District was installing their pipeline in the river bed, Ken developed a long term vision to rejuvenate the Springs and to bring life and beauty to the canyon. An extensive tree planting and irrigation program was the first step undertaken. Today there are over 6000 stately trees, at least 10 different species in the canyon.
The vision included establishing Pah Tempe Hot Springs as a sacred jewel, irreplaceable and priceless as another smaller element in the great circle of national parks, Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon National Parks and others. Ken also believed that this ancient native American healing sanctuary should be recognized and properly honored. He hoped to develop a partnership with these native peoples and reestablish some of their customs and ceremonies relating to the Hot Springs.
Ken was excited and determined to rescue and build up the Hot Springs for the community and initially he believed that the city fathers and the citizens of Hurricane valley would enthusiastically support his selfless endeavors. With many previous successful master plans already accomplished during his years of practice in City and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture, (Kenneth R. Anderson Company, Inc.) already, Ken had an excellent professional reputation and portfolio of projects enhancing and preserving natural places in many locations of the world. Impassioned by his vision and driven by his heart for what the potential of Pah Tempe could become, Ken naively didn’t realize how difficult it would be to carry out his vision in the existing closed society which had alternative agendas in a mixture of religious and political underpinnings.
In spite of these hidden obstacles, Ken enthusiastically planned and dedicated two hiking and biking trails to the community and nature lovers; the Anderson Rim Trail and a portion of the La Verkin Overlook trail.
In order to become better acquainted with the community and the community with him, Ken offered Hurricane mayor Gene Van Wagoner his city planning professional services at no cost to develop a Master Plan for the rapidly growing city of Hurricane. After months of preparation and with the volunteer efforts of many other citizens, the plan was presented to the city who took note but failed to take any further action. This was a great disappointment to all, the mayor, Ken, the volunteers and many other citizens.
Another major community project that Ken was involved with was the creation of the Regional Confluence Park, that included 150 acres of Ken Anderson”s property just down streams from Pah Tempe Hot Springs. Ken was persuaded to sell his property at a drastically reduced price of one million dollars below the appraised value because the Virgin River Land Preservation Trust didn’t want to pay the full value.
Pah Tempe Hot Springs, the Regional Confluence Park (that now includes more than 325 acres), the Hurricane city master plan and the trails all were donated projects to benefit the present and future generations of the people of Hurricane valley and the region.
Also in these early years Ken and two other dedicated citizens formed a new organization, called Citizens for Dixie’s Future ( (CDF), which has now become a major community force to support proper urban planning as well as the conservation of the beautiful natural resources of Washington County and the surrounding area.
During the 28 past years of ownership Ken and Cordula, his wife and partner for the past 18 years and their children Tobias and Lorina have devoted their lives to preserve the sacred Hot Springs property. Some of the Pah Tempe Master Plan has been achieved but many elements remain uncompleted, mostly due to the huge expenditures of legal fees and constant conflicts with the Washington County Water Conservancy District.
In the General Master Plan that Ken developed during these early years, he included a major resort facility where patients could be treated during their extended stay on the site. Mineral water for a proposed community swimming pool complex would satisfy citizens and tourists alike. Also, the master plan included a nursery of native plants, green houses and terraced gardens.
Gradually Ken purchased an additional 180 acres surrounding Pah Tempe, to support this long range plan as well as to protect the original Pah Tempe property.
New housing units for a bed and breakfast, a zip line educational tour, additional clusters of hot pools are current projects that are approved and ready to build.
28 YEARS OF STRUGGLES
When Ken Anderson became involved as an owner in the Pah Tempe property in 1985. the Washington County Water Conservancy District (WCWCD) was in the process of condemning the entire Hot Springs property in order to construct their major pipeline project. The project was designed to ensure irrigation water supply from the Virgin river to serve the entire Hurricane valley. It was called the Quail Creek Project.
Up to this time the Hurricane valley obtained irrigation water from the 100 year old canal This canal was built by the early Mormon pioneers. Now, the new 6 foot diameter pipeline provided reliable, high pressure and abundant water to the entire valley.
Although this project was a great improvement in irrigation water service, it was badly engineered and poorly constructed. Therefore it unnecessarily and severely damaged the aquifer of the priceless mineral Hot Springs despite the warnings of the many engineers and experts.
Openheartedly, Ken was convinced that the Water District would be cooperative in properly and permanently repairing any damage that they created by their huge construction program on Pah Tempe property.
Ken, having the background and expertise and his wife Cordula, a renowned teacher who lived and worked her entire childhood and early adult life in Switzerland, had traveled the world and visited over several hundred Hot Springs in the process. There was absolutely no reason why Hurricane wouldn’t become a resort as well known as Glenwood Hot Springs and Pagosa Hot Springs in Colorado or Vichy in France and numerous other worldwide healing centers.
They firmly believed that the WCWCD would fully support both interests: The Water District’s of a permanent water supply to the valley and the Anderson’s goal of developing their land into a place that could bring wide recognition to the region.
They thought that the WCWCD would take full responsibility to repair the damage to Pah Tempe Hot Springs that they, through their recklessness, caused.
Ken met numerous times with the WCWCD to share his vision, never doubting they would fully cooperate to achieve these goals for Pah Tempe and the region.
Over the following years Ken and Cordula sadly but finally realized that the WCWCD had NO interest in this vision but very surprisingly, just the opposite!! The WCWCD now EVEN claimed the mineral water was actually “poison” and was polluting the river.
This brief narrative describes the following 25 years of struggles and hardships with the Washington County Water Conservancy District ( WCWCD):
The engineering of the pipeline project was deeply flawed. The officially approved plans for the installation of the pipeline on Pah Tempe property were substantially modified by the WCWCD when they actually installed the pipe. Without approval they buried the huge pipe in the bottom of the Virgin river. This raptured the Hot Springs aquifer and, as a result, the Hot Springs pools at the grottos completely dried up. There was NO MORE FLOW, NO MORE MINERAL water.
The WCWCD realized their terrible mistake and tried to repair it. The repair was only partially successful. Consequently, there were now major artificial breaks and outflows of the mineral water along the pipeline in the river and a barely adequate flow of mineral water returned to the grottos. Sadly, over the years it never fully returned to its natural condition. Remaining optimistic during the early years of hardly any Hot Springs water and practically no business, Ken focused on remodeling and adding buildings to open the Bed and Breakfast as soon as possible. He also renovated the swimming pools, jacuzzi rooms, dressing rooms and bathrooms.
As the water flow gradually returned to some degree to the grottos, the Bed and Breakfast and the day use for the Hot Springs business started to grow. That’s when Ken and Cordula Grieder were married. Cordula, a public school teacher for many years in Switzerland left her beloved home country and eagerly supported the cause of the Hot Springs. The business steadily kept growing to about $38,000 per month in 21 years. Ken and Cordula’s children Tobias and Lorina, born in 1995 and 1996 enchanted the many happy guests in the friendly family oriented atmosphere of Pah Tempe. A couple years after their marriage the family was joined by Hannes Frischknecht from Switzerland. He assumed the responsibility of maintaining the entire property.
Five years after opening the Bed and Breakfast, a medium earthquake along the Hurricane fault occurred and as a result the Hot mineral water flow in the grottos diminished substantially. The clay covering, that the WCWCD had placed over the buried pipe now lost its ability to prevent the mineral water from surfacing in the river. The WCWCD’s repair solution proved to be totally inadequate. The WCWCD refused to take proper responsibility for their failed repair job of earlier years, calling the earth quake damage an act of God. They didn’t respond to Ken’s pleading.
Ken, with a well established business but hardly enough Hot Springs water to support it, was advised by a qualified attorney to file a law suit against the WCWCD to fix the damaged springs.
Little did Ken know then, that apparently the WCWCD, a public agency, virtually controls all the political power of Washington county and beyond. The only seven members on the Water District’s board of directors are NOT publicly elected but reappointed every turn at the pleasure of the Water District’s manager. Mr. Ron Thompson has been manager during the entire existence of the Water District. Consequently, throughout all the 28 years since Ken acquired the Hot Springs. Mr. Thompson has made ALL the decisions related to the damage of Pah Tempe property. Even though La Verkin and Hurricane city were substantially negatively affected by the damaged Hot Springs that limited any further tourism growth for the area, apparently they were neither consulted or ever included in these very self serving decisions by the WCWCD.
Soon after Ken filed the law suite, the WCWCD made a very strange and apparently deceitful move. Right when Ken and Jessie Smith were finalizing the purchase of the remaining two thirds interest in the Smith property, the WCWCD, behind Ken’s back, convinced Jessie to sell it to them. They paid Jessie cash in a secret arrangement.
Now it became very clear to Ken, that the WCWCD had absolutely no interest in the Pah Tempe Resort or in Hurricane to become a major tourist and resort town.
This seemingly dishonorable attempt became even clearer when a few years later the WCWCD’s pipeline failed. The pipe, where it had been illegally and improperly buried in the Virgin River bed, corroded by the sulfur content in the mineral water, now began to disintegrate. Just as it was previously predicted by qualified professionals. The WCWCD’s defective engineering backfired.
The entire Hurricane valley was out of water for weeks in the middle of the hottest summer months. The local news papers strangely reported misleading news saying: “Pah Tempe Water pipe breaks.”, creating the false impression that Pah Tempe was in some way at fault for the interrupted water irrigation service.There was no mention of the WCWCD’s failures. Additionally, the Pah Tempe business phone was ringing constantly with customers asking if Pah Tempe mineral water was destroyed.
In an overnight decision, a local judge gave the WCWCD immediate and unlimited occupancy of Pah Tempe property, allowing huge construction equipment to operate for many days and nights in order to repair the damage. This completely disrupted Pah Tempe business.
Finally the Water District admitted that the placement of the pipeline in the river was a major and costly mistake. They left the old corroded existing pipeline in the bottom of the beautiful Virgin river. This violated Federal law that requires all abandoned pipelines to be properly removed. The WCWCD replaced it with a new pipeline section, which they put under the adjacent road along the river and added two visibly offensive aerial pipe crossings just above and below Pah Tempe. The lower pipe crossing was placed nearly on top of the historic 1908 pony truss bridge.
Photo is courtesy of James Collins, Australia
The upper crossing was placed in the back of the canyon marring the scenic quality of the pristine river canyon. It is an eye sore to every person who appreciates nature. In addition, this major mistake by the WCWCD cost about two million dollars of additional public funds.
The entrance to the Hot Springs was defaced but most importantly the Hot Springs at the grottos again ceased to flow. Now, Ken and Cordula were forced to completely close their business and as a result couldn’t operate for five years due to the lack of the Hot Springs flow. During this time they renovated and expanded the existing Bed and Breakfast buildings. They also finished the conference center and future cafe facility, that Cordula then used to home school their two children as well as for numerous activities for young students from the neighborhoods. Locals couldn’t understand why the Hot Springs now were closed and the many bed and breakfast guests kept calling and requesting overnight rooms or soaking time. In fact during the entire five years there were several customer’s phone calls each day, expressing their disappointment deep regret and sorrow for the damage of the Hot Springs. However, gradually, after diligent work and the assistance of nature, the mineral water slowly returned to the grottos.
The law suit continued and totally lasted for a period of 10 difficult years and cost Ken over one million dollars in legal fees. Five very qualified legal firms one after the other assured Ken that his law suits would be successful and soon favorably resolved but one after the other they changed their opinion and advised Ken to settle as best as he could. The final blow came when the United State Supreme Court in 2005 passed a law, which allowed any public agency to condemn private property without cause, providing they could resell or utilize the property to the financial benefit of the local communities. As a result the WCWCD threatened to condemn the property unless Ken would agree to settle the law suit and agree to all their conditions. His last attorney counseled him to accept these very difficult and unreasonable conditions in order to survive.
One of the most severe conditions was the demand that forced Ken to buy the two thirds fee title interests that the Water District had secretly bought from Jessie Smith. Only now the cost had increased by the WCWCD’S whim by 400% to one million dollars. Another severe condition is the requirement that Ken would have to capture the mineral water in a pipeline before it entered the river so that the WCWCD could pump it out of the canyon into a dead spot in the desert. In addition, this forced agreement required Ken to spend over $200,000 to completely repair a failed Water District pipeline embankment on Pah Tempe property. Also in this agreement Ken was forced to dedicate 100 foot wide fee title strips all along the District’s pipelines that had been installed throughout the entire Pah Tempe property. This severe condition resulted in the loss of the Pah Tempe Retreat Center, that was located within this deeded strip. This center had been a major source of income and hosted well known workshop groups, such as Byron Katie and many others. These are a few of several other severely harassing and practically impossible conditions imposed on Ken and Cordula in this settlement agreement.
Although it appeared that the constant conflicts with the WCWCD have been resolved by this agreement, in actuality Ken had been tricked into signing a document that, with all the unreasonable conditions, severely clouded his actual ownership and future operation of Pah Tempe property. This included another, at this time insurmountable condition, that the existing septic tank and leach fields had to be replaced by a system that would pump the sewage out of the canyon or build a major on site treatment plant that would cost at least $125,000. Without fulfilling this new sewage disposal system requirement, there was no way to reopen the Hot Springs as before nor to continue developing the Hot Springs Master Plan projects.
Many local citizens expressed their outrage at not being able to enjoy and benefit from the healing waters. A few people even falsely concluded, that the Andersons were selfishly keeping the Hot Springs private for themselves and their friends.
In the meantime the struggles continued. With the collapse of the economy in 2008, Ken became unable to finance the newly required septic system or any housing units. Worried by the total banking collapse, Ken’s local bank nullified their agreement to loan the necessary funds for these projects.
As the financial situation became severely critical, Ken was forced to file for Federal bankruptcy projection to prevent the loss of his properties including Pah Tempe Hot Springs.
THE 2008 FINANCIAL CRASH
As the Hot Springs water gradually returned to the grotto, Ken and Cordula decided to open the resort for some limited public use. Due to the restricting conditions imposed by the Washington County Health Department, they decided to allow three hour private sessions to individuals or groups. This program satisfies some of the public demand from benefiting from the healing waters without increasing the requirement for additional sanitary facilities. The small income from these guests barely covers the minimum maintenance of the property as well as basic utilities. However, the existing personal loan on the property ($1.1 Million) as well as the sudden cancellation of committed project and development money by a local bank resulted in Ken’s default on loan payments. Even with a 2009 favorable MAI (Member of the Appraisal Institute) appraisal value of $7.9 Million, Ken was not able to obtain critically needed capital. Therefore, in May of 2010 he was forced to file for chapter 11 Federal bankruptcy protection for the entire Pah Tempe property. As with many major businesses, the banks and other normal lenders refused to provide desperately needed money throughout the economy. Finally, in late 2011, the Federal court changed Ken’s bankruptcy filing to chapter 7. The court appointed a Trustee who began immediately to take all of Ken’s personal property (heavy construction equipment, life stock and other removable property items), anything in order to produce enough cash to pay all of the fees and cost that the Trustee and his associated attorneys, accountants and real estate people had charged against Ken’s estate. At this point the auctions of Ken’s personal property produced over $100,000 in about three months but NONE of this money was paid to any of Ken’s creditors.
At present the Trustee and the Washington County Water Conservancy District apparently have developed a secret plan, attempting to separate Ken’s valuable irrigation water shares ( that are part of the essential maintenance program on 217 acres of Pah Tempe property) from the land. In order to greatly depreciate the value of the Pah Tempe property, the Water District ordered and paid for a very deceitful new appraisal of the 217 acres of property. The Water District evidently required their appraiser to value the property as “dirt only”, no commercial value,no buildings and other improvements, no business history value and no water value (neither irrigation nor mineral water). The result of this appraisal was presented by the Water District’s attorneys to the Court as only $1.4 million. This appraisal was only 18% of the 2009 value of $7.9 million, which was made AFTER the worst time of the Real Estate crash. In order to attempt to correct this drastic and apparently corrupt situation, Ken has filed a lawsuit against both the Trustee and the Washington County Water Conservancy District, because:
1. The Trustee appears to be violating his fiduciary responsibilities to protect both the creditor’s assets, as well as the estate of the debtor. It appears that the Trustee, in league with the Water District, is secretly attempting to find ways to liquidate the estate, using false appraisal values , to satisfy his and the Water District’s personal interests.
2. Apparently the Water District is attempting to acquire the Pah Tempe property for pennies on the dollar, so they can justify to the public that this is a very low, non commercial purchase. Then, the District would finally be able to try to fulfill its thirty year objective to somehow capture the “poison” mineral water in a pipe before it falls into the Virgin river. Then, somehow they propose to pump the mineral water out of the canyon and dump it into a dead sump area in the desert south of Hurricane.
Now, Southern Utah is on the precipice of loosing the rare mineral springs of the Pah Tempe property and the guardians of Ken and Cordula Anderson to the apparent greed and deception of both the Trustee and the Water District. This possibility, to Ken and Cordula, is not morally, politically or socially legitimate.
They are now reaching out to the local southern Utah public and beyond, to all of the Southwest, the Country and to the world to gain support to correct and properly heal this tragic process. They, with the support of their family and friends are working tirelessly to spread the word and to document this tragic injustice to the property, people, and nature.
Ken Anderson, born in 1925 served two years as a naval air force pilot at the end of World War II and was honorably discharged to return to his educational program at the University of California Berkeley. He bought Pah Tempe and, as a single parent, partially raised his son David Anderson until David became 10 years old and returned to his mother. He married Cordula Grieder in 1995.
Cordula Anderson, teacher and educator in Zurich Switzerland has organized and supervised the operation and improvement of the property. She married Ken in 1995. Together they raised Tobias, now 17 and Lorina,16 here at Pah Tempe Hot Springs.
Hannes Frischknecht, from Switzerland, constructor and landscaper at Pah Tempe Hot Springs, has maintained and beautified the entire property during the past 18 years. He lives with his wife Angela Renner on Pah Tempe property.
All three have contributed to make Pah Tempe a wonderful paradise. Pah Tempe today is an oasis where wildlife and many different species of birds abound.
For all these years Ken, Cordula and Hannes have worked for this cause, used their personal resources, receiving each a VERY limited salary for their constant services and efforts.
It is hard to believe that a local governmental agency has been able to control and continuously attempt to destroy not only this very sacred place on earth but the livelihood and property of devoted citizens. While doing these actions, all in disguise of providing an expanded public water service, the WCWCD actually has greatly limited the unmeasurable potential for the development of a center for health and tourism services throughout the region, Pah Tempe Hot Springs Resort.
It is clearly understood that the construction of the pipeline (the Quail creek project) is a huge benefit to the Hurricane valley. However, it became very clear that hardly anybody dared to confront the Water District’s authority about their often questionable and apparently unethical, single handed and illegal methods and proposals to get their projects accomplished. Many people, groups and towns in the region have been negatively affected over the past thirty years and were not able to bring their story into the open.
Even today there is a wide spread fear and dissatisfaction toward the manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District and his board of directors.
SOLUTIONS FOR SAVING PAH TEMPE HOT SPRINGS
Ken and Cordula, the owners of Pah Tempe Hot Springs are searching to find financial help to pay off/retire the loan of the existing creditor : 2 Million US dollars
• a sympathetic and motivated investor/partner
• by fund raisers, lotteries, public donations
• by any other means
With great appreciation, sincerely yours, please contact us! We appreciate your support!
Cordula and Ken Anderson, Pah Tempe Hot Springs. October 2012
825 N 800 E Hurricane, UT 84737