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Front Page » October 28, 2003 » Opinion » If fair is fair then be fair to both sides of the issue
Published 4,361 days ago

If fair is fair then be fair to both sides of the issue

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Sun Advocate

A few weeks ago when the Bureau of Reclamation held their scoping meeting in Price concerning the building of Gooseberry Dam officials from the agency mentioned a number of times that to be "fair" Sanpete County should be allowed to go ahead with their project.

I guess that fairness is relative, but in my studies of the move to build this dam over the years, fairness had hardly ever been an issue. The BOR says that if you look back to the original agreements on how the two dams (Scofield and Gooseberry) were to be built, that it is about time that Sanpete got their half of the deal.

However, my problem lies with what their half of the deal is today as it was compared with July of 1941 when things were going ahead with little opposition from Carbon County.

My understanding of the original concept was that Scofield was to built first at an estimated cost of $155,000, with Carbon paying for $80,000 of that and Sanpete paying for $75,000. After that project was done, then the money that Sanpete paid would go toward compensating Carbon for the water they would lose in what was then a somewhat smaller projected Gooseberry Reservoir.

However, the Japanese Empire spoiled that whole scheme when they bombed Pearl Harbor in December of that year. Sanpete pulled out of the project, for reasons I have not been able to ascertain except that the war was draining resources from them. However I suspect they had other plans.

Second, the Case Wheeler Defense Act provided funds to help build the present Scofield Dam, but most of that money had to be repaid over a 40 year span by Carbon County. Carbon suggested that if Sanpete ever wanted to get back into the project after the war they would have to come up with $116,000 to do so, although that was based on a 1942 projected construction cost of over $350,000. However by the time the dam was finished in 1946 it had cost nearly a million dollars. I have never read of other suggestions for Sanpete to buy in, I think largely because they decided that they could find another way to do it without compensating Carbon. That way was partisan politics.

So let's be fair. Carbon paid for that debt for 40 long years while the politicians on the other side of the mountain worked hard to get Gooseberry first included in the Central Utah Project and then when that 1948 concept didn't work out slipped it through into the Upper Colorado Basin Project in the mid-1950's, despite assurances from the BOR at least once during that time that Gooseberry was dead, largely because it was not economically feasible.

So again, let's go ahead and be fair. Carbon is not the one that pulled out of the project during World War II. Carbon is not the one that has been and is diverting water to the other side of the mountain, yet providing little documentation on whether it is getting exactly what it has rights to or if it is taking too much already.

If Sanpete is already getting their share of water, why do they need a dam to store more? The area from which they are getting their water from is already the premier snow pack area on the Wasatch Pleateau.

But to be even more fair, lets talk about money. Let's see they were supposed to pay almost half of the cost for the 1940's Scofield Dam, but certainly that $75,000 is a drop in the bucket today. According to my calculations based on inflation that would amount to $925,727.94. But again that isn't near the value it was in 1941 when it comes to building huge projects like dams.

Maybe, instead, they should pay Carbon for half of what it would cost to construct Scofield Dam today. Or better yet, maybe, to make up for the water they will be taking away from Carbon County, they should pay for half of building a new reservoir on the White River, so that water just doesn't run down to the Green River during high flow in the Springtime.

Now that sounds fair to me.

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October 28, 2003
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