A crowd gathers around a sign up table at the BOR meeting that was held in Price on April 29 concerning the Gooseberry Narrows project.
The comment period for the recently released supplemental draft environmental impact statement on the Gooseberry Narrows Project is nearly over and Carbon County residents who want to register their feelings about the document have only until next Tuesday to do so.
The SDEIS was released earlier this spring and has since then been the subject of controversy, particularly when open meetings to comment on the project were held in Manti and Price in April. The SDEIS is a document that has been in the works for years, ever since the original EIS was done in the early 1990s. It was published in the Federal Register April 1.
Local water officials have been discussing the over 400 page document in meetings from one end of the county to the other. Some city councils and other organizations have written letters to the BOR as well as to the Utah Congressional delegation about the proposed project.
Officials are urging private citizens to also coment on the project. While a dozen people spoke at the meeting in Price, it has been noted that written comments hold a lot of weight with the Bureau of Reclamation.
The Narrows Project SDEIS describes the effects of Reclamation issuing to the Sanpete Water Conservancy District (SWCD) a loan pursuant to the authority of the Small Reclamation Projects Act, as well as issuing to the SWCD a right of use of federal lands in accordance with Reclamation law. These Reclamation actions would facilitate the construction by SWCD of the proposed Narrows Dam and reservoir, noted as a non-federal project proposed to be located in Sanpete County. The loan application and request for a right of use of federal lands by SWCD to build the Narrows Project was intended to meet the purpose of developing an irrigation and municipal and industrial supply source for water users in northern Sanpete County.
The dam and its proposed reservoir has been a bone of contention between Carbon and Sanpete counties for over 80 years. Many times during that period the approval for building the dam has either been thwarted by national events, by environmental concerns or by lawsuits. The water that flows from Gooseberry Creek ends up in Fish Creek and eventually drains into Scofield Reservoir. Local water officials fear if the dam is built it will take a lot of water away from Scofield, particularly in drought years. Scofield is the largest supply of water for all uses in central Carbon County where most of the population of the area lives.
Comments can be submitted through Tuesday to the Bureau of Reclamation, Attention: Peter Crookston, PRO-774, 302 E. 1860 S., Provo, Utah, 84606-7317; phone: 801-379-1152; facsimile: 801-379-1159; e-mail: narrowsSDEIS@usbr.gov. Please be aware that all personal identifying information (including name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, etc) provided as part of a comment, may be publicly available as part of the public record. Requests to withhold this information cannot be guaranteed.
The actual SDEIS document is available on Reclamation's Web site at: www.usbr.gov/uc/envdocs/index.html for public review.