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Government Funds Repairs for Wiped out Hanksville Dam

Government Funds Repairs for Wiped out Hanksville Dam

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HANKSVILLE, Utah (AP) -- The federal government will spend more than $5 million to rebuild a washed-out dam that is critical for farmers and ranchers in a tiny southern Utah town.

An October flood on the Fremont River destroyed the Hanksville Dam and 2,700 feet of canal.

"This is a tiny town," said U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, who made the announcement. "But its livelihood depends on the dam. It's just as necessary here as it is to people in need on the Mississippi Delta."

Hanksville is home to 250 people and four times as many cattle.

Money for the project is from a Department of Agriculture Federal Emergency Watershed Protection Agency grant.

Three alternatives to rebuilding the irrigation system are being explored. Federal law requires the agency to evaluate impacts on natural resources and cultural resources and the socio-economic effects before deciding on a plan for repairs.

The Wayne County Commission will make the final selection. Construction is expected to begin in the fall.

The grant cannot be used to build more extensive dam protections that existed before the flood, said Sylvia Gillen, a state conservationist for the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service.

"The law requires that we only go to that point," said Gillen.

Area farmers will have to ride out the year without water, said Mayor Stanley Alvey.

Kevin Hatch, vice president of the Hanksville Canal Co., said it's unlikely an interim project will be developed to pump water through the canals.

------ Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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