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Water quality concerns connect committee to Carbon community

Sun Advocate publisher

Scofield community members examine a dumpster site near the town's reservoir earlier this month.

An ad hoc committee is really just a committee to do advisement, it is usually put together loosely and often has little power.

That's why the Scofield Water Quality Committee is so unusual.

While it has no real power, and in fact is not a formal committee, it still has been able to do some things about protecting the water that most of the people in Carbon County drink.

"It was organized just before I came to work for Carbon County planning and zoning," said Gayla Williams, a member of the committee and deputy zoning administrator of the county agency. "The people on this committee want to be sure that the drinking water for the county is as clean and as protected as it can be."

The committee is large with membership from various agencies including the Utah State Division of Water Quality, the Utah Department of Transportation, the Division of Wildlife Resources, the Price River Water Improvement District, Utah State Parks, the Scofield Reservoir Special Service District, the National Resource Conservation Service, the Utah Association of Conservation Districts, as well as various other Carbon County entities.

The committee has participated in many projects to protect the water in the reservoir and are planning more for the future. One of the most recent projects was to change the dumpster area east of the reservoir, between the inlet to the dam and Scofield itself.

"It was kind of hard for people to get their trash into those tall dumpsters there at times," said Williams. "Consequently we had some of it blow around and into the lake. We have now created a disposal site that will be much easier for people to use."

The committee had built a ramp that vehicles can drive up on and the dumpsters stand by the side of the ramp so trash can be easily deposited into the receptacles.

Money for committee projects usually comes from grants or agency funding to take care of problems affecting water. The size of the committee assures that all sources are contacted and many members do in-kind donations as well.

"The state division of water quality has grants, but the various groups contribute well," said Williams. "Many of the groups contribute labor and materials as well as expertise to the projects."

The committee has completed several projects. For example, many places that used to allow people to drive vehicles to the beach have been closed. As a primary drinking water supply, Scofield can be polluted by vehicle fluids like oil and antifreeze.

People would often camp on the beach and all kinds of things would end up in the reservoir, including human waste.

"I think one of our concerns is to move people away from the lake other than to do recreation," said Williams. "We want to keep the garbage out of the water."

Restrooms are a major concern and the committee is working toward installing facilities.

A billboard urging visitors to keep the area clean is also planned for the north end of the reservoir where people drive into the valley.

The committee members are committed to giving the area the freshest and cleanest drinking water possible, pointed out Williams.

Editors note: Today's story is the first in a series of three articles on keeping Carbon County's water supply clean.

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