Letter to the Editor: Fix the dam problem
I would like to make a recommendation that could greatly improve the water quality in Scofield Reservoir. The original dam is creating a bottleneck preventing the reservoir from "flushing" out the sediments naturally. This is affecting not only the water quality, but also increasing the cost to treat the water. Now, with the reservoir so low, is an opportune time to fix the problem by removing the remnants of the old dam. This will be a small expenditure in comparison to allowing the problem to continue.
According to three different reports, water quality in Scofield Reservoir could be greatly improved by natural flushing of sediments from the bottom of the reservoir. Dredging out the original dam area would allow the reservoir to flush sediments off the bottom in a natural way. All three reports conclude that nutrient loading in the reservoir is the cause of poor water quality.
The report "Non-point Source Pollution and Fisheries in Scofield Reservoir, Carbon County, Utah January 1991" states "The fishery at Scofield Reservoir has experienced a dramatic decline over the past decadeÃ¯Â¿Â½ Sediment related nutrients are the primary reason for the deteriorating water quality in the reservoir."
It also says, "The reservoir is filling up with sediments, resulting in the loss of storage. As storage capacity is lost there will be less and less water available from Scofield Reservoir. The recreational value will be lost for all water activities. Blue-green algae can make the water unpleasant with strong odors, and can even cause skin irritation. Scofield Reservoir is a culinary water source and the cost of treating this water will continue to rise as the water quality degrades."
Naturally one of our main concerns is the economic impact that water quality has on our business, as would anyone whose livelihood is tied to recreation/tourism. But we are not the only business in Carbon County, as well as other counties in this state, that depend on recreation. According to "Synopsis of Water Quality Issues at Scofield Reservoir, Donaldson, 1989", over $2,000,000 dollars are spent each year in Utah because of Scofield Reservoir. How much would that be in 2005 dollars? How much of that is spent in Carbon County? This has a wide reaching effect economically. Simply stated, people will spend more time with a greater level of enjoyment at a reservoir that doesn't look and smell bad.
The greater concern is of course the quality of the culinary water. Given a choice, I'm sure people who are drinking the water would prefer the cleaner water that removing the old dam could provide. These studies were funded with public monies, don't you think it's about time the public got a return on that investment?