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Moving a lake means moving a mountain of paperwork

East Carbon City Mayor Orlando LaFontaine discusses the possible movement of the Grassy Trail Reservoir at a recent East Carbon city council meeting.

Moving Grassy Trail Reservoir to a new location may seem easy on the surface, but with as much work as this project entails there is still much left to be done before ground can be broken on a new reservoir.

Meetings with all of the entities involved have been taking place on a regular basis as everything from the sale of land for a new reservoir to what happens with the minerals rights under the new reservoir site.

Jeremy Humes, East Carbon City attorney, gave the local council an update on the status of the reservoir and future plans at the council meeting on Tuesday night. Humes said that the city recently had a meeting with School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) concerning the possible purchase of the property for the new reservoir. SITLA has received the application for purchasing the land and they are now reviewing everything including the mineral rights below the surface and will make a recommendation internally on what they would like to do, Humes explained.

According to state statutes, SITLA can only sell the surface rights to the property. The property would have rights that include surface rights, oil rights, and gas rights. However, all of the mineral rights to the property including coal, oil, gas and any other mineral rights would be retained by SITLA forever, according to the statute. The purchase of property for a new location for Grassy Trail Reservoir would only involve the surface rights, Humes said.

Another meeting was held recently with the state engineer's office that talked about the process of moving the storage of water to a new location. Applications were prepared to be approved for the state at the meeting but there needs to be some changes made to them, Humes said.

The state provided a much longer list of water rights that are owned by both East Carbon and Sunnyside but have never been exercised because there has never been enough water in the area.

An application for an encroachment permit has been filed which concerns the road that would lead to the new reservoir area. The road crossing through Sunnyside LLC leading up to Little Bear is classified as a County Class D road and because of this the county has requested more information about how the road will be constructed, what kind of road base will be used and more.

With all of the meetings that have taken place and with more work to be done in the near future, those close to the project say things are moving forward.

"Things are progressing and moving along," Humes said. "Everyone is working together at this point very well."

Both East Carbon City and Sunnyside are in agreement that a new reservoir is needed. Grassy Trail Reservoir is currently dealing with a number of problems including a high amount of silt at the reservoir and areas where the reservoir is leaking.

Moving the reservoir could extend the life of West Ridge Mine by 18 months to two years. UtahAmerican Energy Inc. has been in discussions with local municipalities about redirecting Grassy Trail creek to a new location where a reservoir would be built. If nothing was done the mine would have about two years of mining left.

The time frame for the project is still really tight, Humes noted, and there are still areas that will need to be looked into such as an agreement on who will be responsible for the operation of the water system. Also no construction on the reservoir has been started as the project is still in the approval phase.

If all goes according to plan, the hope is that the property for the new reservoir will be sold by August, Humes said.

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