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Dentist, power plant team up to create east county reservoir

Paul Martinez stands beside the excavation for the re-developed on l on his property near East Carbon/Sunnyside.

By C.J. McMANUS
Sun Advocate reporter

After multiple dry winters, reservoir levels throughout Carbon County have dwindled, causing industrial and municipal customers to begin looking for alternative water sources. In East Carbon, the Martinez Cattle Company has partnered with local industry to revive a secondary reservoir first developed on the Biggs Ranch in 1905.

With federal allotments, the Martinez Cattle Company consists of approximately 20,000 acres of land along U.S. 123 near East Carbon. Paul Martinez has constructed a bunk house and other structures on his property while running about 40 head of cattle.

The small ponds he has dug allow him to water his livestock but do not hold enough volume to provide irrigation. With help from the National Resource Conservation Service, his ambition is to build a pivot sprinkling system allowing him to raise feed crops.

As his need for water increased, Martinez took notice of the problems East Carbon and Sunnyside cities are having concerning industrial consumption of culinary water.

Both Sunnyside and East Carbon have been at odds with Sunnyside Cogeneration about the amount of municipal water the company is using to operate its cooling towers. As these issues came to a head this summer, Martinez approached ECDC and Sunnyside Cogeneration about a partnership.

"You know in the 1960s our cities and the industries that operated within them formed meaningful partnerships. I would like to see us get back that," said Martinez. "I have had my problems with ECDC and Sunnyside Cogeneration, but we have always worked through them and maintained a good relationship."

Starting in August, machinery from Sunnyside Cogeneration and its contractor Savage began a major excavation on Martinez's land. The group is excavating sentiment from a reservoir used on the Biggs Ranch for decades. Biggs used the reservoir for flood irrigation, Martinez has opted for the pivot system which will save water and cut down on salinity issues which affect the Price River. According to Martinez, when the excavation is finished, the reservoir could hold as much as 200 acre feet of water.

While the water collected through runoff and Martinez's water shares will be a major prize, the top soil gathered during the excavation of the lake also has multiple uses. Sunnyside Cogeneration plans to use the soil as cover for its ash piles.

East Carbon City also plans to take top soil from a portion of Martinez's land and use it as a medium for the hydro seed being sprayed on their new cemetery.

Once the reservoir is cleared of sediment, ECDC will step in and line the lake with clay, preventing water loss. They also have plans to develop pipelines making it easier to move the reservoir's raw water. ECDC plans to use a portion of the lake's water for dust suppression, cutting down on their demand for culinary water.

"This is a project which will benefit everybody," said Martinez. "You know these companies have brought in equipment and done work in a couple of weeks that would have taken me years. Partnerships like this allow for the continued growth of both industry and private business in our communities."




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