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Utah Congressmen Seek Funds for Willard Bay Study

Utah Congressmen Seek Funds for Willard Bay Study

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- As engineers continue to fix a leak in the Willard Bay dam, two among Utah's congressional delegation have renewed a push to study a dam expansion.

Both Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah and Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, have reintroduced legislation to consider raising the height of the 14-mile-long Arthur V. Watkins Dam. Raising the dam would increase water capacity and potentially solve some of Utah's future water problems.

"Everyone knows we need more water in Utah, and our state can't grow and survive without it," Bishop said in a news release. "Taking a look at increasing the height and capacity of this reservoir just makes sense. Raising the dam a few feet may seem like a small thing now, but it could reap huge rewards down the road in getting us the water we need."

Bishop and Hatch proposed similar bills during the last Congress. Bishop's bill passed, while Hatch's Senate measure stalled. With the Democrats now in control, the congressmen are starting anew.

An expansion feasibility study would consider how to raise the level of the dam by several feet. Every added foot increases the storage capacity of the bay by another one acre-feet of water -- enough to supply an average household with enough water for one year.

Raising the dam could be complicated, however, by a leak discovered in the structure last year. Engineers temporarily plugged the leak, and released 95,000 acre-feet of water to expose the leak. They've determined the leak was actually water seeping through the foundation sediment, not the dam itself, Weber Basin Water Conservancy District Tage Flint said.

"They are currently designing a fix ... and the fix will likely be short term so we can store just a little bit of water, and a long-term fix to allow us to go back to full storage," Flint said.

------ Information from: Standard-Examiner,

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

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