County panel exploring consumers dam concept
The idea of developing a middle drainage reservoir in Carbon County has been around for years. At the first meeting of the water development advisory committee formed by the county, the concept was the main topic of discussion.
"This idea of putting a dam across the Consumers area and putting a reservoir there in its present formulation is like a concept car," said Tony Beals of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a representative on the committee. "It is fraught with a million problems, some of which may well be of the type that they could not be overcome."
Carbon Commissioner Bill Krompel pointed out that the county is looking for solutions to the water problems it encounters every so often and the idea is one of many officials have considered.
"We seem to go into drought cycles every four to six years,"said Krompel. "Hopefully, this committee can look at some of the agenda items and we can come up with some solutions. I know that most of the solutions we can find will not be cheap, but we need to look at how to solve some of these reoccurring problems."
Beals and Dave Varner of the NRCS have spent time in the last few weeks using map overlays from the county's geographical information service to develop tentative plans on the project.
"I have some maps here, but you don't have handouts on them because they are a concept and that only," said Beals.
The two projected maps detailing the possibilities, including having a dam cross the valley above U.S. Highway 6. The option would wipe out the road to Consumers.
"That, of course, is the first problem," said Beals. "Coal haul trucks use this road continually to go to Wildcat load out. That would have to be rerouted."
Due to the topography in the area being considered, Beals pointed out that two reservoirs rather than one would be beneficial. The smaller reservoir could conceivably store 4,000 acre-feet and the larger 15,000.
The reservoir would not be a new source of water, but utilizing resources in a different way, indicated Beals. Water would be diverted from the Price River in the Heiner area to fill the reservoirs.
"We are thinking that this could be done in the winter when flows are not utilized as much and stored in these reservoirs," said Beals.
The plan also included a small reservoir in Warehouse Canyon above Carbonville, which could store up to 3900 acre-feet, possibly filled by winter flows through the Spring Glen Canal system.
The concept is similar to the creation of the Millsite Reservoir a few years ago in Emery County.
Approximately 50 people attended the meeting, including committee members and interested citizens. Many raised questions and concerns.
"Remember, I told you this is fraught with a million problems," said Beals. "But after looking at the area, there aren't many good sites to put in this type of reservoir, largely because of elevation problems. If the county is really interested, it would have to do a feasibility study on it."
Constructing a dam in the Consumers area is not a new idea, indicated Carbon Commissioner Mike Milovich.
"The county did a study in 1996 on this very site," stated Milovich. "The soil tests in that very area were not conducive to having a dam placed there. The people we had involved at the time told us it would be much more feasible to build a reservoir like this in the Farnum area and then pump the water back up to the top of the county."
Milovich also pointed out that the Farnum idea, according to the consultant engaged by the county, was superior to developing a reservoir to utilize the White River runoff before it entered the Price River.
With that information, the discussion turned toward alternatives like putting a dam across Gordon Creek near the railroad bridge. But it appears geographic and elevation problems might make it difficult to do.
"The fact is that, anywhere you want to do anything like this, will require a lot of study and, in turn, will also have many obstacles to overcome," said Beals.
Water projects are expensive - costing about $2,700 per acre foot to develop, pointed out Beals.
"The cost of development of any reservoir couldn't be stood by just the farmers alone, but would need other support," emphasized Beals. He suggested that some of the cost associated with building a reservoir might be defrayed by using the waters for recreation and fishing.
Beals also said he understood that similar reservoirs experience fluctuations. Fish might not be able to survive the fluctuations and recreation might be out of the question, particularly when the reservoirs are drawn down low in the late summer.
Louis Berg of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources addressed the people in attendance at the meeting.
Berg pointed out that the state agency might have resources to add to a water development project.
But with an anticipated depth of approximately 20 feet to 25 feet, it would be difficult to keep the type of fish anglers prefer healthy and alive in a reservoir.
The committee concluded that the matter of constructing any type of reservoir needed not only additional study, but deep thought and consideration on the part of the state and local agencies.
The report cited by Milovich will be reproduced and copies will be provided to the committee members to review.
Acting on several different agenda items at the meeting, the water development committee members:
Learned that the idea of piping the Carbon Canal system seems to be picking up steam.
Funding proposals for the project need to be submitted to the United States Bureau of Reclamation by August.
Officials from Carbon Canal and the NRCS will work toward getting the funding requests to the federal agency by the designated deadline.
The DWR opened the fishing pond in Helper last week.
The division is now considering the feasibility of building more ponds in the county, particularly in the Price area.
"We would like to do more projects like this one," said Berg. "The city of Price said it has some property near the middle freeway interchange that is wet lands already."
"The county has also said it might have some property we could use up by the fairgrounds. We will be looking into both these possibilities in the future," pointed out Berg.