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Town That Lost Dam in Flood Needs Water for Crops, Cattle

Town That Lost Dam in Flood Needs Water for Crops, Cattle

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HANKSVILLE, Utah (AP) -- Help is coming from several sources, but anxious ranchers still are worried about having water in time for cattle and spring planting, months after a flash flood wiped out a dam.

Nearly $5 million in federal money will help rebuild the dam, but that only covers 75 percent of the project. The state and this southern Utah town likely would need to come up with the rest.

"It's fabulous about the money," said Tracy Albrecht, whose husband, Ronnie, is the fifth generation to work the farm. "But we've got to have the water in the next few weeks, so we'll have to work on some kind of a temporary solution."

Hanksville, population 250, gets little precipitation, 180 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

The Oct. 6 storm destroyed the diversion dam, 2,700 feet of canal, 16,000 feet of fences and 930 acres of alfalfa.

Ranchers got some relief when they sent their cattle to winter ranges. But next month there will be no irrigation water for the returning cattle or for spring planting.

"The town will die without irrigation water," Mayor Stanley Alvey said. "The diversion dam is that important."

Ronnie Albrecht, who is president of the Hanksville Canal Co., said he has been trying to get permission from the Bureau of Land Management to pipe water into an irrigation ditch, upstream from the dam.

But even if he gets the permit, he knows the process will take time.

"There's only one ditch," Albrecht said. "If I can get the water, it'll be available to everyone else, too."

But if it doesn't work, and there is not an early rain, cattle will have to be sent early to market and crops will not be planted.

To protect the town from future floods, Bull Creek has been dredged to increase channel capacity. The new diversion dam probably won't be ready until next year.

The Albrechts, who have off-farm income, will ride out what could be a dry season.

"We'll do everything we can to get water," Ronnie Albrecht said. "No matter what, we're staying."

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

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

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