Sanpete County Upset Over Delayed Reservoir

Sanpete County Upset Over Delayed Reservoir

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Sam Penrod ReportingA battle over water that has gone on for more than 70 years has a Central Utah county making waves today. Sanpete County is blaming government bureaucracy for stalling a proposed dam and reservoir again.

An orange flag marks the spot where Sanpete County wants to build a dam, to store water from snowmelt. The dam and reservoir have been in the planning stages since back in 1930, however it's been delayed by legal wrangling. Today county leaders gathered to say enough is enough.

Edwin Sunderland, Sanpete Water Conservancy District.: "There is no storage for us up there, so we run out of water early in the year, so we cannot maintain our crops to the extent that puts us in competition with the rest of Utah, where they have water storage facilities."

One stumbling block has been a dispute over water rights with Carbon County that goes back decades.

Claudia Jarrett, Sanpete County Commissioner: "In reality, there's not a whole lot of loss to Carbon County, 700 acre feet of water is not very much, when you think that Sanpete is going to gain 5400 acre feet of water."

The proposed reservoir would use the water here from Gooseberry Creek, it would eventually, fill this small valley at a cost of 25 million dollars. Most of that money will be recovered from the sale of water rights. However, several groups are raising red flags about the potential for negative impact from the dam.

Timothy Hawkes, Trout Unlimited: "The fact the dam would inundate critical spawning area for some native trout, Bonneville cutthroat trout, we're really concerned about the fact we'll lose all of this creek behind us and maybe some impacts down stream."

What everyone is waiting for now is for the Bureau of Reclamation to issue an Environmental Impact Study, one that has been in the works now for fifteen years.

The Bureau of Reclamation today says it is still gathering information so it can make an informed decision on whether or not to build the dam. The agency says it is working with other government entities to resolve differences and says the process could take several more months.

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