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Ed Yeates ReportingWith all the extra snow and rain this year you'd hope people are doing all they can to save it for the future, just in case the drought makes a comeback. We have news of a remarkably successful storage project, which works by simply letting water soak into the ground.
From Chopper Five several reflecting ponds are visible at the mouth of Weber Canyon. They don't look like much and they aren't much -- less than four acres, only two or three feet deep. But they're doing a big job of storage.
Darren Hess, Weber Basin Water Conservancy District: “This is on the leading edge as far as water and storage water.”
Water flows in through a canal from the Weber River. The water doesn't stay put. What it's doing is, well, engineers have a technical word for what it's doing.
Darren Hess: “Infiltrating into the ground.”
Reporter: “Soaking into the ground?”
Darren Hess: “That’s all it’s doing, soaking into the ground, yes.”
“So what?" you say. Well it's excess runoff that would normally flow unused to the Great Salt Lake. Instead it's going where it can be useful later, underground. The soil here is exceptionally porous. The water goes deep into the ground, pouring into a major aquifer.
A super-long tape measure inserted in a monitoring well hits water 271 feet down, and rising.
Darren Hess: “Water is rising underground, over a foot in the last month.”
Right now it's going into the ground at 1500 gallons a minute. That's how much water we're talking about, going into the ponds and into the ground.
Darren Hess: “We’re able to catch this water, hold it underground, and store it in that fashion.”
The project cost is in the tens of thousands. It would cost many millions for a new dam and reservoir.
Imagine a three and a half acre storage tank, 216 feet high, that's how much water went into the ground during testing last year. A year's supply for 800 families is waiting to be pumped out if it's ever needed.
The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District has applied for federal funding to expand the experimental project.