Spillway project, mine water to affect Scofield
|Muddy Creek flows slowly through the winter snow and ice. The rate of flow has picked up as Skyline mine is pumping about 4,400 gallons of water a minute into the stream. The flow eventually ends up in Scofield Reservoir, the main water supply for Carbon County.|
The Price River Water Improvement District discussed several potential impacts to Scofield Reservoir at a board meeting on April 19.
The topic of the discussion focused on water from Skyline mine and a letter defining time lines on spillway reconstruction at Scofield Reservoir from the United States Bureau of Reclamation to the Carbon Water Conservancy District.
The letter to conservancy board member Richard Lee from BOR field engineering manager Curtis Pledger spelled out when the construction project will take place on the 60-year-old dam.
While other spillway reconstruction work has taken place at Scofield, the upcoming project is the first that BOR has taken the major role in financing.
According to the letter from the federal agency, the initial design and engineering cost estimates will be into BOR by the end of the week.
Next will come a value engineering study that will include preferred alternatives, which should be completed by the first part of May.
Final designs will be reviewed in October and be pretty much in place by the end of November, when the reclamation bureau project expects to submit the project to U.S. Congress for approval.
Recent meetings also took place with Utah Department of Transportation officials concerning the replacement of the bridge crossing over the spillway at the reservoir.
After the final design and approval, bids will be let in early 2006, with construction expected to be started within one year.
The projected completion date for the bridge project is in late fall 2007.
While the bridge project is underway, water pumped from Skyline mine will continue to have an impact on Scofield Reservoir.
According to a report developed by PRWID assistant district manager Jeff Richens, the mine is presently pumping 4380 gallons per minute of water into Muddy Creek, which ultimately runs into the reservoir. However in a couple of months that flow will drop to about 3300 gallons per minute.
Richens also reported about the other two pumps that are bringing water out of the area of the mine. The James Canyon one pump is now pumping 4000 gallons per minute and that water is flowing into Electric Lake in Emery County. The James Canyon three pump has not been operating since early last July and there is no plan to start it up again.
The James Canyon one pump is situated in a fracture zone about 70 feet below the level of the mine itself and has been pumping water since September of 2001. The water that comes out of this pump is uncontaminated water which is why it can still operate and pump water into Electric Lake which has high water quality standards due to the fishery and other factors.
The James Canyon three pump ran between July 2003 and 2004, but it brought water directly from the mine works and the water proved to be unsatisfactory for the Electric Lake drainage. There were also some pump problems involved as well.
Prior to September 2001, all water discharges from the mine were down Eccles Canyon and that average discharge was 1654 gallons per minute.
A chart released with the report shows that since the fall of 2001, two months after miners hit water in the Skyline Mine and it began to fill up, about 55,000 acre feet of water have been pumped out of the mine. About 34,000 acre feet of that has been sent down Eccles Canyon, while the remainder went into Electric Lake via the James Canyon pumps.
When the water first began to fill the mine it was thought that the water was underground water that had not seen the surface in thousands of years, due to the lack of radioactive particles in it that have been put into surface water supplies all over the world by atomic bomb testing. However, since then there has been speculation that the water was coming from a fissure in the bottom of Electric Lake.
While many tests and studies have been done, opinions of geologists and hydrologists still vary on the source of the water that is filling the mine. The mine suspended operations last year but is presently resuming their work in another part of the operation where the water is not having an impact on removing the coal.