This past winter and spring the Utah Rivers Council and the Price Sun Advocate teamed up to host an essay contest for Carbon High School students.
Carbon and Sanpete Counties have debated the Gooseberry Narrows Project for over 70 years. We asked students to research the project in order to understand how Carbon County would be affected if the project is constructed as currently proposed. Based on their research, each student articulated in a written essay his or her understanding of how stakeholders such as irrigators, recreational users, culinary water distributors and wildlife would be affected.
A number of students submitted essays and we awarded cash prizes to two students: Ryan Ware (1st Prize - $150) and Holly Dinkelman (Runner-up - $100).
In addition to the publication here, their essays may also be viewed at www.utahrivers.org.
Two counties are competing for a scarce resource, which happens to become more valuable every week. It so happens to be one of the most valuable resources to Carbon County's economy, wildlife, and future generations. If we do not take action on the Gooseberry Narrows Project (also referred to as the Narrows Project) this county will surely lose much of what it has and could potentially gain.
Although Sanpete County may have rights to the part of the river that crosses through their border, they must consider the consequences to those downstream. The reason why Sanpete County is in need of this dam and reservoir is the fact that they have very little water to meet their demands put on by their local agricultural and residential growth. Initially the water will be used to meet the demands of a mere 250 farmers, for the 25 million dollars being put into this project; it would be a waste of everyone's tax dollars.
Sanpete County claims that at its current growth rate, their populations will double every 12 years. Last year, Sanpete County had a severe drought which did not help the situation. Because Sanpete County had to cut off water supplies to the farmers early last year, they dusted off a proposal that was originally presented in 1924. The proposal of building a dam or reservoir was put away several times since then because it was declared "economically unfeasible". With increased pressure from last year's drought, this proposal resurfaced and many are pushing for it to be passed as soon as possible.
Carbon County claims that cutting off some of the water that goes to Scofield will devastate the local wildlife as well as the tourism that is attributed to Scofield. Even though all of the proposals have been declined so far, Carbon County is worried that Sanpete County might be able to proceed to the construction phase of this dam. However unnecessary the dam is, there is more than just one solution available and it would be wise to consider other available alternatives.
The first major impact on Carbon County will be the fact that we will lose much of our potential economic growth. This is because Sanpete County will take away much of the water from Scofield Reservoir. Without the reserves of water we need for our daily consumption, Carbon County's economy will surely be exposed to economic problems. Some examples of these problems could be a water shortage for many of our local farmers and shortages for many small business owners. Other problems will be from the tourism industry. When people come to Scofield most of them do not go there to visit the town, they usually go there to see the wildlife or to go fish, all of which would be devastated from this proposal
Wildlife will also surely suffer from the building of this reservoir. Some of the obvious damages will be that many of the fisheries around Scofield Reservoir will suffer irreversible damage. Portions of Gooseberry Creek could drop by as much as 74 percent. Fish Creek could drop by as much as 24 percent. These lower flows would lead to lower water levels in Scofield Reservoir: the only water supply for Carbon County. Over 20 miles of perfect trout water will be destroyed, all at the expense of 250 farmers. There will be more damage dealt to wildlife. Local wildlife populations could possibly diminish due to a shortage of water and food from the Price River.
Future generations of the people living in Carbon County are up for grabs in this proposal. If Sanpete County is allowed to build this dam, Carbon County will most likely not develop its population. This is because the shortage of water will simply not allow for our future development.
There is an alternative though. According to the Utah Rivers Council, the same amount of water that would be provided by the Gooseberry Narrows Dam could be delivered at a much lower cost to the federal taxpayer by taking advantage of conservation methods, such as lining existing irrigation districts in Sanpete County. Rather than spending $25 million to move water from one community to another and irrigate a desert, the Bureau of Reclamation should look more seriously at these alternatives. Essentially, by conserving and making irrigation methods more effective, Sanpete County could eliminate their growth in water-based demands for many years to come.
In conclusion, both sides could have an alternative solution to this situation. Firstly, don't do onto others what you would not want done to yourself. Next, Sanpete and Carbon County both have enough water to suffice their needs for many years to come, that is, if their resources are properly managed.
And last of all, Sanpete County does not have to build a dam. They have alternatives that they can use and should. Building a dam should be a last resort.
Remember we all live downstream.
The wildlife in central Utah is one of the main advantages that people gain from living in the Carbon County area. The Sanpete County Water Conservancy District and the Bureau of Reclamation, or the BOR, want to construct a dam and reservoir on Gooseberry Creek. This will have many harmful effects on the people and wildlife from the Carbon County area.
Many of the things affected by this project are, the water levels in Scofield Reservoir, the irrigators, and the population of wildlife. It will also affect the life of us, the youth of Carbon County.
The reason for the Gooseberry Narrows Project is to provide the Sanpete County area with more water. The Gooseberry Creek flows into Fish Creek, which is a main tributary to the Price River and the Colorado River drainage. The Gooseberry Narrows Project will put the Carbon County area in an unstable position.
In the past 10 or so years we have been in a drought and our community has been asked to use water sparingly and only when needed. Water is becoming more and more scarce and therefore more and more valuable to our community and area. The hard work of trying to conserve our precious water would be for nothing if the Sanpete County Water Conservancy District and the BOR go through with the Gooseberry Narrows project and build the sought dam. The water levels in the Scofield Reservoir would decrease and, because the Scofield Reservoir supplies most of the culinary water for our area, the people, especially in the Carbon County area, would be negatively affected by less water than ever before.
Many people who choose to live, and enjoy living in the Carbon County area because of all the wildlife opportunities and recreation, would also be greatly affected. Building a dam would greatly disturb the local wildlife. Many people do not think of the construction effects when considering such a project as the Gooseberry Narrows Project. Many animals could be driven out of their habitat, which would greatly affect the advantages to our area. The fish and other water creatures would be the most affected because their habitat would be totally changed or even destroyed. The disturbance to the wildlife will cause recreation activities to greatly decrease which, in the end, would cost our community money and funds that could have been gained and used to better our community.
Many people living at or near Scofield Reservoir choose to live there because of the water and the advantages it brings. Building the dam and withdrawing its water will affect the water levels and therefore the people at Scofield Reservoir. Worse than affecting wildlife, is affecting the people who choose to live in a specific area. Just like any other place, these people will not want their surroundings disturbed or altered. The reservoir and the advantages it holds will be taken away and greatly dissatisfy the local homeowners.
One reason that the Sanpete County Conservancy District and the Bureau of Reclamation want to build this dam is to distribute water to irrigators in Sanpete County. This is illogical because to provide irrigators with water in one area, people will have to limit the irrigational opportunities in another. Nothing is to be gained from this aspect because, just like now, one place has irrigational opportunities, and another needs it. However if they take water from the Scofield Reservoir, the opposite effect will take place.
Sanpete may now have water, but the Scofield area's levels will go down and we will be stuck in the same predicament that the Sanpete County Water Conservancy District and the BOR say we are now in. Because Carbon County and Sanpete County are now competing for water, the Gooseberry Narrows Project should not take precious water away from one area to give it to another. Taking away our valuable water will only hurt the Carbon County area.
The wildlife would possibly be the most affected by Gooseberry Narrows Project. The animals need the water to live and to flourish in their habitat. The Gooseberry Narrows Project will lessen the water and drive these animals from their homes and cause disorder throughout their habitat. Without the presence of the local wildlife, the Carbon County area would not be what it has become today. The wildlife and nature surrounding our area is one of the greatest draws to our community. The Gooseberry Narrows Project would affect the wildlife, the surrounding nature, and our community for the worst.
As the youth and next generation of Carbon County, the Gooseberry Narrows Project will only cause problems for us. If the Gooseberry Narrows Project is constructed, it will be within the next 10 years, which will cause problems for us. We should not have to continue or make decisions about a project that someone else has put into motion. The Gooseberry Narrows project will cost money, time, and labor, which will have to come from today's youth. To prevent such problems, the Gooseberry Narrows Project should not be put into motion. The consequences of money, time, labor, effects on wildlife, people, and recreation, greatly outweigh the advantages.
The Gooseberry Narrows Project should not be continued because of all the possible negative effects on the Carbon County area. By continuing with the Gooseberry Narrows Project, Carbon County's draw and advantages will be hurt. The wildlife, recreation, and easy living are a huge draw to our simple community. By building a dam, the Scofield Reservoir, recreation, homeowners, irrigators, wildlife, and even today's youth will be greatly affected.
To continue being a successful place to live and thrive, the Carbon County area should not be altered. The way our community is now, is what makes it a pleasant and flourishing place to live and enjoy.