The Advocate's Devil
Gooseberry's mindset is small
The trouble with the Gooseberry Dam and Reservoir is that both Carbon and Sanpete counties have been thinking small. That means really small, as in zero sum.
Zero is what you get when you pour scores of millions of dollars into a project that does not add a drop of water to the state or the nation. All it would do is move 5,400 acre feet of water from one side of the mountain to the other. Sanpete irrigators would gain an extra crop of alfalfa only at the loss of productivity on the Carbon side.
But that is only if the Gooseberry Project is viewed as a primitive water retention and diversion effort. There is a way to keep Carbon whole even if the reservoir is built and Sanpete gets the water. That is to mitigate the loss of water by funding water conservation infrastructure in Carbon County as part of the Gooseberry Project.
Some irrigation companies in Carbon have already enclosed canals and adopted pressurized sprinkler irrigation as part of a salinity reduction effort in the Colorado River drainage. That has reduced losses to seepage and evaporation.
More piping or lining would result in more savings of a scarce and vital resource. In effect, every gallon of water saved would be a gallon created. If Sanpete gains the water and Carbon doesn't lose any as a result, Utah and the United States gain from increased economic output.
It is not fair to ask taxpayers of the state and nation to fund the zero sum Gooseberry Project as it is now conceived. On the other hand, both counties might be persuaded to lobby for a more comprehensive project.