Iron County saving every drop of water
April 1, 2017
It has been five years since Iron County opted out of the $1.4 billion Lake Powell Pipeline project proposed to bring an estimated 86,000-acre feet of water from the Colorado River, through Kane County to Sand Hollow Reservoir in Washington County.
Although opting out created some concern at the time for Iron County officials, with some creative thinking those worries are becoming a distant memory.
The current situation
The Mormon settlers of Cedar City chose the location of the town due to the proximity of Coal Creek; the town’s only above-ground water source. The Cedar Valley is a closed basin, meaning Coal Creek ends west of Cedar City at Quichapa Lake where the water seeps into the ground.
Ten years ago, the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District filed for water rights in the Pine and Wah Wah Valleys of Beaver County and propose to build a pipeline of their own to bring water to Iron County.
Currently, the two sources of water being used in the Cedar Valley come from Coal Creek or by pumping water from an underground aquifer. But with Cedar City’s population jumping from 13,443 in 1990 to more than 30,000 today, the town is using more underground water than is being recharged, or put back into the ground.
“We have been mining this aquifer since the 1930s, and lately we have been mining about 8,000-acre feet of water more than we are recharging annually,” CICWCD Executive Director Paul Monroe said.
One acre-foot of water is the equivalent of a football field dug one foot deep, and about 80 percent of water in Iron County is used by agriculture, Monroe noted.
The good part about Cedar Valley being in a closed basin is there is nobody downstream that depends on Coal Creek’s water, the bad part is the alkaline, silt and clay Quichapa is famous for are not good for recharging the aquifer.
In a story about Iron County history published in the Utah Historical Quarterly in 1928, Quichapa is said to be a Paiute word meaning “dung water.”
“The bed of Quichapa Lake is hundreds of thousands of years of Cedar Breaks that made its way down Coal Creek,” Monroe said. “Once the water makes it there it is useless. It won’t recharge the aquifer and water quality is so bad that it can’t be used for anything else.”
The decision was made to take away the water that has made Quichapa a “lake.” It is also known as a dry lake for the times during the year when there is no water in it. To do that they borrowed an idea from Cedar City Engineer Kit Wareham.
More than a decade ago, Wareham was out on a December stroll near the airport watching Coal Creek’s water travel downstream to its final resting place.
“It was winter when agriculture is not using any of the water, and I was watching all this water go downstream to Quichapa,” he said.
Infrastructure to divert the water to channels in case of flooding already existed and there were nearly seven acres of the basin being unused to channel water into, so the solution was “simple,” Wareham said.
“We just installed two head gates to divert the water into two pits out near the airport,” he said. “The water percolates into the aquifer and tests have shown the water quality is very good.”
During the winter months for the last 11 years, water channeled back into the aquifer that was previously useless by the time it reached Quichapa has recharged the aquifers by an average of 1,800 to 2,200-acre feet of water annually.
“The United States Geological Survey estimates the aquifer levels in that area have risen 20 to 30 feet in the last decade,” Wareham said.
The city is considering plans to drill a city well in the area due to the success of the recharge. If a well is put in at the location, the city would save money by not having to pump water from wells outside of the city.
Western Rock pit
The third phase of the Coal Creek Flood Mitigation project is about two weeks from completion. The creek was widened in spots and new flood paths created that made it possible for several areas on the northwest side of town to be taken out of the flood zone.
During the flood mitigation projects, members at CICWCD discussed the possibility of using some of the water that was being diverted due to construction to recharge other pits near town. Western Rock ultimately offered use of a gravel pit they own but are not currently using.
The idea was proposed in February. One week later Cedar City and CICWCD crews were digging ditches. For the last few weeks, water has been recharging the aquifer northeast of the airport.
Cedar City chipped in $5,000 and more than 600 feet of unused pipe that was taking up space at the airport. CICWCD chipped in another $5,000 and the return came pouring in once the floodgate was opened.
Cedar City councilman Paul Cozzens, who also serves on the board at CICWCD, said it would cost an estimated $277 per acre-foot to bring water from the Pine and Wah Wah Valleys to the Cedar Valley.
“So, if we put 1,500-acre feet into the aquifer with this project, that is almost a half million dollars we saved the taxpayers,” Cozzens said. “We have already put 1,300-acre feet in there.”
The last of Quichapa
Despite all the diversion, there was still good water making its way to Quichapa Lake. CICWCD employees visited a pipeline that carries 2.6 million acre-feet of water annually from Lake Havasu to Phoenix and came home with some new ideas.
“Our goal is to put every drop of water that comes out of the canyon that the agriculture does not use back into the aquifer,” Cozzens said.
Monroe said the county has good wells near Quichapa, some within very short distances from the contaminated dry lake. With the help of $100,000 grant, Quichapa may soon see its last drink from Coal Creek.
The floodgate currently being installed will divert Coal Creek’s water under state Route 56 and through a “lazy river,” where the sediment will filter out and clean water will recharge the aquifer north of the dry lake.
“The teamwork that was put into this project is unbelievable,” Monroe said of the Cedar City, Iron County and CICWCD crews, the Bureau of Land Management and four landowners in the area.
A similar project, dubbed the Enoch Graben, has also been recharging aquifers near Enoch over the winter.
“This was really easy too,” Monroe said. “There was an old spring that was there from an old irrigation ditch, and we recharged that aquifer pretty much all winter. Again, most of the infrastructure was already there for the project.”
A future without the Lake Powell Pipeline seems less scary with these and other projects going on, but with the current growth Iron County is experiencing, officials realize aquifer recharge may not be enough. Monroe said bringing water from the Pine and Wah Wah Valleys might come soon.
Although the rights to the water in Beaver County were granted to CICWCD in 2014, Beaver County has since contested those rights.
“We approved a settlement agreement, which is subject to the other party’s approval in our last board meeting,” Monroe said. “We are about as close to a done deal as you can get.”
If water is brought into the Cedar Valley from the “west desert,” it would be via a pipeline that would run through the town of Lund.
“The test wells we have drilled in the west desert are very promising,” Monroe said. “The water is as good or better than many of the wells here in the Cedar Valley. They will be very good water producing wells in the future.”
Cozzens said opting into the Lake Powell Pipeline would have “bankrupted” the county. Monroe agreed but noted that at the time opting out was a very difficult decision to make. With the future of the Beaver County water uncertain and the Cedar Valley using more water than was being recharged into the aquifer, the decision was not taken lightly.
“At the time, it was a very tough decision for the board to make,” Monroe said. “But at the same time, it was not economically feasible. We think that we can recharge and conserve enough water to get us within equilibrium of what we use. But if we continue to grow we will need to import water as well.”
Cozzens said officials from the Utah Division of Water Rights recently toured the Iron County flood mitigation and recharge projects.
“The state engineer toured the projects recently and he was elated,” he said.
UDWR Deputy Director Boyd Clayton said that the aquifer recharge projects only make his job easier. If a community is experiencing extreme water shortage, UDWR is the department that can possibly set water restriction and appropriate or distribute water to more critical areas.
Though Iron County is not the only county doing aquifer recharge projects in Utah, they are “not plentiful” either, Clayton said.
“We are always encouraged to see those organizations who are working to divert unused water back into the ground,” he said. “This water would go to waste, so putting it into the aquifer for future use is very valuable for everybody concerned. We would like to see more projects like those in Iron County throughout the state.”
Conserving for the future
Monroe has noticed help from the agriculture industry in Iron County, which is switching to newer technologies to conserve water that was previously being blown away by the wind or evaporating into the air.
“Some of these drip systems can conserve up to 30 percent of the water being used on crops,” he said. “If agriculture uses 80 percent of our water that would be roughly 4,000-acre feet, which is about half of our deficit. It is a big help when those in agriculture step up their game and conserve.”
Some in the industry are even changing the dynamic of their crops to help with the water shortage, Cozzens said.
“They are even planting different crops to achieve those means,” he said. “Some are switching from alfalfa to corn, which uses less water.”
In the end, all residents should conserve where they can and teach the younger generation to do so as well, Monroe added. Whether simply turning off the water while brushing one’s teeth, or paying attention to how efficient one’s lawn sprinkler system is operating, “every drop counts.”
For tips on how to conserve water in your home, visit cicwcd.org.
Follow reporter Haven Scott, @HavenWScott. Call him at 435-865-4522.
CEDAR CITY – The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District board members took one step closer Thursday night to securing new water rights for Iron County, a move officials say has been a long time in the making.
Board members unanimously voted Thursday during their monthly meeting to move forward with a proposed agreement pending the approval of the other parties and to give the attorneys the freedom to negotiate further details with Beaver County and the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration for water rights in the West Desert.
The action comes after years of a long-standing courtroom battle and years of negotiations between the three agencies for water in the Pine Valley and Wah Wah Valley.
The legal challenges came after Iron County officials declined to participate in the Lake Powell Pipeline project because of the high price tag associated with it, instead choosing to place its future in three applications filed in 2006 for water rights in these areas and Hamlin Valley – which is not in dispute at this time.
Protests from Beaver County, which also had interest in the water that was in part located within its borders, the mining company Utah Alunite and Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration came in shortly after CICWD filed the applications. Utah Alunite later withdrew from the lawsuit.
The state engineer eventually approved the CICWCD’s filings in 2014, awarding the agency the right to import up to 6,525 acre-feet from Wah Wah Valley and 15,000 acre-feet from Pine Valley. Hamblin Valley still remains undecided.
Since then, CICWCD has remained tied up in litigation.
That water is our last straw in being able to import water from another basin
“That water is our last straw in being able to import water from another basin,” Cedar City Paul Cozzens said, who also sits on the CICWCD board. “Having the additional water from the West Desert will have the largest impact on restoring the aquifer levels, provide safe and reliable drinking water and ensure a future for our children in Iron County.”
While the issue has continued to go through the legal process, the CICWCD has moved ahead with drilling test wells and working with the Bureau of Land Management in locating sensitive habitat to determine the best corridors for a pipeline. It’s going to take around seven to 10 years to get the pipeline in and water pumped to Iron County, officials said.
“We still have to go through the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process so it’s going to be awhile before we are pumping that water, but we’ve continued to work on it even as we’ve battled the litigation and we’re hopeful we’re going to be able to get things done rather quickly,” Paul Monroe, CICWCD executive director, said.
But with a price tag of about $250 million – about half the purported cost of the Lake Powell pipeline – bringing the water to Iron County is not going to be cheap. Officials argue Iron County’s future is dependent on it.
If we don’t solve this problem, the state engineer will be forced to begin reducing water rights
“If we don’t solve this problem, the state engineer will be forced to begin reducing water rights to restore the aquifer so we have to find ways to do that. But there’s really only three ways to restore the aquifer – conservation, importing new water and recharge – that’s it,” Cozzens said, who has served on the board for five years and is in his first year of his second term.
Cozzens’ statements come from concerns issued by the state water engineer warning that the Cedar Valley aquifer supplying most of the water to Cedar City, Enoch, Kanarraville and the unincorporated areas was feeding more water into the community than is available, resulting in overmining of the water supply.
In 2016, representatives from the Utah Division of Water Rights held a public hearing where Assistant State Engineer James Greer showed figures that the aquifer could only safely yield 21,000 acre-feet of water on an annual basis. The aquifer, however, was actually generating an estimated 28,000 acre-feet – 7,000 more than it can handle.
Water is typically measured in acre-feet, which refers to the volume of water. One acre-foot of water is equal to about 326,000 gallons, or enough water for one year for a family of four.
“We’re only getting about 20,000 acre-feet recharge to that aquifer annually every year,” Greer said.
Greer admitted to attendees that state officials are at fault for the deficit, at least in part, as they appropriated more water rights in the 1960s than were available in Iron County.
Two decades of lower-than-normal precipitation has also impacted the aquifer, he said.
State Water Engineer Kent Jones told county officials they will need to create a groundwater management plan to restore the rapidly depleting aquifer that, at current yields, cannot continue to meet water demands in Iron County. If the county is unable to do so, the state must step in and if necessary begin eliminating water rights issued after 1935, he said.
The state water engineer issued similar orders in 2007 for residents in the Beryl-Enterprise area to create a groundwater management plan after it was determined the groundwater had been pumped faster than it could be recharged.
The 118-year plan was finished in 2012 and was adopted by the state water engineer.
According to the plan, the goal was for water depletion to be reduced over time until it matched the safe yield and included the elimination of water rights, with the newest ones first.
While Greer told Cedar City News in 2016 that it will likely take Iron County a similar amount of time to finish their management plan, Monroe said he would like to see it done sooner rather than later.
“I don’t want to take five or six years to put this thing together,” Monroe said. “I’d like to see us have it finished before that time.”
A 10-member committee has already been formed to start creating that plan.
This (water issue) has to be a priority
“This (water issue) has to be a priority. We as a community have got to distinguish between our needs and wants and we have to realize that taxpayers’ money is not endless,” Cozzens said. “So while others are planning big ticket project venues in Cedar City, my eye is on bringing water to this valley and I intend to keep it there and fight anything I believe will get in the way of doing that because it won’t matter if we don’t have water coming out of the faucets. And that’s what’s going to happen if we don’t plan for the future.”
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.
CEDAR CITY – The state water engineer warned Iron County officials more than a year ago, to fix their water problems or he would.
In January 2016, representatives from the Utah Division of Water Rights held a public meeting at Cedar High School. There, the assistant state engineer James Greer told officials and residents that the Cedar Valley aquifer supplying most of the water to Cedar City, Enoch, Kanarraville and the unincorporated areas was supplying more water into the community than is available, resulting in overmining.
Greer’s figures showed that the aquifer could safely yield 21,000 acre-feet of water on an annual basis but instead was generating an estimated 28,000 acre-feet, or 7,000 more acre-feet than it can handle.
Water is typically measured in acre-feet, referring to the volume of water that would cover 1 acre to a depth of 1 foot. One acre-foot is equal to about 326,000 gallons, or enough water for one year for a family of four.
“We’re only getting about 20,000 acre-feet recharge to that aquifer annually every year,” Greer said.
Greer admitted to attendees that state officials are at fault for the deficit, at least in part, as they appropriated more water rights in the 1960s than were available in Iron County.
Two decades of lower-than-normal precipitation has also impacted the aquifer, he said.
State Water Engineer Kent Jones told county officials they will need to create a groundwater management plan to restore the rapidly depleting aquifer that, at current yields, cannot continue to meet water demands in Iron County. If the county is unable to do so, he said, the state must step in and if necessary begin eliminating water rights issued after 1935.
The state water engineer issued similar orders in 2007 for residents in the Beryl-Enterprise area to create a groundwater management plan. That plan came after it was determined the groundwater had been depleted faster than it could be recharged.
The 118-year plan was finished in 2012 and was adopted by the state water engineer.
According to the plan, the goal was for water depletion to be reduced over time until it matched the safe yield and included the elimination of water rights, with the newest ones first.
While Greer told Cedar City News it’s likely it will take Iron County a similar amount of time to finish its management plan, Central Iron County Water Conservancy District Executive Director Paul Monroe said he would like to see it done sooner than later.
“I don’t want to take five or six years to put this thing together,” Monroe said. “I’d like to see us have it finished before that time.”
Of late, a 10-member committee has already been formed to start creating that plan.
“The committee will be meeting monthly in an effort to solve some of our water challenges and help prevent the loss of personal water rights,” Cedar City Councilman Paul Cozzens said. “We’ve already met three times and discussed many options such as importing water, water conservation, unused water rights, future growth and recharge projects.”
In the meantime, CICWCD board members are continuing to work on several projects to restore the aquifer in hopes they can avoid the state water engineer having to take water rights away.
“If we don’t solve this problem, the state engineer will be forced to begin reducing water rights to restore the aquifer so we have to find ways to help solve the problem, there’s really only three ways to restore the aquifer – conservation, importing new water and recharge – that’s it,” Cozzens said, who has served on the board for five years and is in his first year of his second term.
Airport recharge project
One of these and really the first of its kind is a project that Cedar City has been doing for nearly 10 years.
Located on airport property, the project uses several ponds to recharge about 1,800 acre-feet of water a year. CICWD is also looking at the option of using the wastewater treatment plant to put 2,600 acre-feet of effluent to better use through agriculture and recharge.
Enoch Graben recharge project
The Enoch Graben Recharge project, started in late October 2016, is recharging the Enoch Graben aquifer and is a combined effort between the district, private property owners and Enoch City.
“We live in a desert. Clean ground water is always going to be the life source of the community, especially economically,” Enoch City Manager Rob Dotson said, via a recent press release issued by the district. “Projects like this help to protect resources that we can only safeguard if we take responsible steps.”
Water began flowing through the pipe after property owners were finished using it for the season and will continue through the winter months. The water there only travels a few feet before it is absorbed into the ground.
The Graben area was a free-flowing spring more than 60 years ago, Monroe said.
“Some areas in the Graben area are near 100 feet below historic levels so the area is absorbing water like a conduit. It’s just sinking right into the ground immediately.”
The ground filters the water as it moves down. It is literally reversing years of taking water out of the aquifer and putting it back into the underground reservoir that acts as a storage without evaporation.
Quichapa Lake recharge project
Quichapa Lake fed by Coal Creek sits just west of Cedar City. However, the water there is largely wasted as it never makes it into the aquifer.
“Quichapa has lot of evaporation and that water just goes to waste,” Cozzens said. “The lake has so much clay and silt that has been built up over eons, it won’t allow the water to naturally percolate and recharge the aquifer. That water out there is absolutely no good to us.”
Officials from Cedar City, Iron County and the conservancy district along with property owners have worked together to build a new diversion structure that will divert excess Coal Creek water before it ever makes it to the lake.
The water will then be channeled northwest, under state Route 56, and pumped to a recharge area near Cedar City’s municipal well.
The project is located in an area that has seen the largest water level declines, Monroe said, as well as known subsidence at the ground surface.
To build the project, CICWCD received a $100,000 grant from the Enterprise and Iron Conservation District, which is under the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
“This project is going to help reverse the current trend of drawing down more water from the aquifer than what is being replenished,” Cozzens said. “So the majority of the water that is traveling to the Quichapa Lake and is wasted will now be captured and diverted to use to recharge the aquifer.”
Finally, the conservancy district is taking advantage of an opportunity to temporarily put water back into the aquifer via a flood mitigation project using a gravel pit owned by Western Rock.
The project was not built with the intention of recharge efforts but rather a way to help mitigate flooding during the spring months. However, Cozzens saw a chance for the district to use the water being pumped into the gravel pit as not only flood mitigation but as a way to recharge the aquifer.
The city had to initially get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration due to the project’s location near the airport and concerns that the water would draw in birds. As a result, airport personnel took steps to safeguard the airport runway from the birds.
City workers used 1,000 feet of 33-inch concrete pipe to pump the water from Coal Creek to the pit. By using 650 feet of used pipe the city had laying around the entire project only cost the district about $5,000 and the city another $5,000. It was completed in February and has already dumped more than 500 acre-feet of water into the pit with about 60 percent already going into the ground for recharge efforts, Cozzens said.
“This has been an amazing side benefit and a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to put water into the aquifer,” Cozzens said.
In addition to recharge projects, the conservancy district is also working on importing water from another basin located in the West Desert and conservation efforts to help restore the aquifer. Cedar City News will continue to cover these issues and bring our readers more information on what is being done to solve these issues affecting all Iron County residents.
Water fair set to educate children about conservation
CEDAR CITY – The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District is hosting a water fair to help local students learn about water and conservation in a fun way.
The fourth annual Water Fair is scheduled for March 6-7 at the Heritage Center Theater, 96 N. 100 East in Cedar City. The fair will teach fourth graders about water and conservation in a fun and engaging way, organizers said in a news release.
Experts from across the state volunteer to educate students on a wide range of water topics including Southern Utah University faculty and representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, Utah State University Extension and the Utah Division of Water Resources.
The water fair aligns with Utah’s fourth-grade curriculum focusing on the water cycle. Over the past four years of the water fair, teachers have seen an increased interest and higher core test scores.
“My students did very well on testing last year on the water cycle and I think the Water Fair was a big reason. It is so fun for the kids,” one teacher said.
“These children are our future and it is so important to understand water and the role it plays in everyday life,” Conservancy District Office Manager Mandi Williams said. “It is especially important in the Cedar Valley where aquifer levels have been declining at an alarming rate. Students in attendance will further their knowledge of water and conservation.”
The theme for this year’s fair is “What’s all the Flush About?” Students will be sent home with an experiment consisting of tablets designed to detect leaks in home toilets.
Large infographics with fun water facts will be dropped off at the schools Monday, a week before the water fair, to get students excited.
For more information or questions, contact the conservancy district by phone at 435-865-9901 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about water conservation can be found on the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District website.
Recharging The Aquifer
January 25, 2017
CEDAR CITY, UT (January 23, 2017)-Central Iron County Water Conservancy District in conjunction with Cedar City, Iron County, and local property owners recently broke ground on the construction of an aquifer recharge project near Quichapa Lake. This project will divert water that traditionally becomes contaminated and evaporates in the lake and pump it to a recharge area north of Highway 56 near Cedar City’s municipal well. The project is located in an area that has seen the largest water level declines as well as known subsidence at the ground surface.
The CICWCD received a $100,000 grant from the local Enterprise and Iron Conservation District which is under the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food to help construct the diversion structure. “Artificial aquifer recharge is the practice of sending water into the ground to refill groundwater stored in aquifers. Historically more water has been drawn from the Cedar Valley aquifer than is being replenished and this project will help in reversing that trend,” said Shelby Ericksen Public Information Specialist for CICWCD
The recharge project started to gain traction at the beginning of the 2016 when the State Engineer of the Division of Water Rights held a public meeting to address the overdraft issues in the valley and began the implementation of a Groundwater Management Plan. This plan, which will be developed over time, is the process that the State uses to reduce water rights to bring the aquifer back into equilibrium. Artificial aquifer recharge will likely help reduce the cuts of water rights brought about by the Groundwater Management Plan, as well as help restore groundwater levels.
In addition to the Quichipa Recharge Project, CICWCD has also been recharging the Enoch Graben aquifer since late October 2016. The Enoch Graben Recharge project was a combined effort between the Worth Grimshaw Family and Enoch City. Enoch City Manager, Robert Dotson said, “We live in a desert. Clean ground water is always going to be the life source of the community, especially economically. Projects like this help to protect resources that we can only safeguard if we take responsible steps.”
“The water only travels a few feet before it is absorbed into the ground,” Ericksen said. Water began flowing through the pipe after the irrigators were finished using the water for the season and will continue through the winter months. “We hope to put as much water into the ground as we can to replenish the aquifer,” Ericksen said.
Sixty years ago, the Graben area was a large free flowing spring. Today, it is absorbing water like a conduit because water levels in some areas are near 100 feet below the historic levels.
Billy Grimshaw, a fourth-generation farmer and owner of the land where recharge is taking place, said, “We could be drinking this water in 20 years. The underground reservoir is great for storage without evaporation. The ground also filters the water as it moves down. We are reversing what we have done by putting water back into the underground reservoir instead of just taking it out.”
In 2015 the Division of Water Rights approved the District’s application to recharge up to 20,000 acre feet of water from Coal Creek. One acre foot of water equals 325,851 gallons or about the same amount of water a family of four consumes in one year.
When asked about the importance of aquifer recharge, Dotson said, “To me, this is a symbol of future cooperative efforts. This is one step towards balancing the aquifer. It takes some desire, a good plan, and people willing to give a little up. Everyone gave a little up, but the potential return on investment is significant.”
Similar to the cooperation of Enoch City and the Grimshaw family, the District is encouraged and thankful for the local support and contribution from the local land users, Jones Land and Livestock, Brad Schmutz, Tyree Bulloch, and for Iron County and Cedar City Corporation for supplying the equipment and labor for the project. Questions and more information about the project can be directed to CICWCD at 435-865-9901.
Water should be first priority in Iron County
Paul Cozzens, In My Opinion, The Spectrum
Utah is one of the fastest-growing states in the country and Iron County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state. With regards to water this can be a challenge.
I just completed the first year of my second four-year term on the Cedar City Council, and I’ve had the privilege the last five years to serve as a board member for the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District (CICWCD). The opportunity to serve in these capacities has been a great learning experience for me.
Many of you are aware of the serious challenges we face regarding our water needs in this valley. The state engineer and other experts have determined that the annual safe yield is about 21,000 acre-feet. However, we (municipalities, agriculture, CICWCD, and private) are already depleting about 28,000 acre-feet — creating a deficit of about 7,000 acre-feet per year.
The state engineer is tasked with the responsibility of monitoring these situations, protecting this precious natural resource and ensuring that the water supply is sustainable. He traveled to Cedar City twice in 2016 and met with the public to discuss the need for our basin’s groundwater management plan.
Recently, in response to a request from the state engineer, he has recommended that the water users in the valley form a Groundwater Management Plan Committee (GMPC). This committee will be meeting monthly to assist in solving some of our water challenges and help prevent the loss of personal water rights.
In our first meeting, we discussed many issues including: importing water, water conservation, unused water rights, future growth and recharge projects. If we don’t solve this problem, the state engineer will be forced to begin reducing water rights until a balanced equilibrium is reached in the aquifer. This means that if you had water flowing into a 55-gallon barrel full of holes (with each hole representing a water right),as the water drops, you would not lose that right, but the flow to holes at the top of the barrel would cease sooner than those with higher priority rights at the bottom.
A large percentage of the city’s water rights would become junior and could become unusable in the future, in today’s market, the value of that water is tens of millions of dollars. Please be aware that the CICWCD; the municipalities of Enoch, Cedar City, and Kanarraville; Iron County; and agriculture users are taking this seriously.
Cedar City has been successfully recharging about 1,800 acre-feet of water near the airport for the past 10 years and is currently looking at options that involve putting the 2,600 acre-feet of effluent from the wastewater-treatment plant to better use through several options we are discussing. These projects are expensive and we have limited funds.
Last year, the CICWCD successfully completed a recharge project in Enoch and is working on another project near Quichapa Lake where the water is largely wasted because the layer of clay under the lake prevents water from recharging into the aquifer and is wasted through evaporation.
Efforts have been made in the past to reclaim this water. However, once the water reaches the lake, it becomes so contaminated it can’t be pumped to another area and used for recharge. Currently, we are working on a new diversion structure to divert excess water before it hits the lake.
The water would then be channeled northwest, under state Route 56, and pumped to an area of land that has excellent percolation qualities. This is very positive due to the fact this area of extraction is where the lion’s share of Cedar City’s water is pumped and is the aquifer most critically in decline.
Another project well under way is to import water from the west desert valleys of WahWah and Pine (west of Milford). The state engineer has approved portions of our filings and we are working to import up to 12,000 acre-feet from WahWah and 15,000 acre-feet from Pine Valley.
This long-term project comes with a price tag of about $250 million (a little over half of what the Lake Powell Pipeline would have cost), but is critical for the future growth and sustainability of our valley.
Conservation projects by the Iron County School District, Cedar City Corporation, CICWCD, and private efforts have been very positive as well. However, much more can and should be done.
Cedar City is now going through the process to create a parks and recreation master plan and soliciting input from our citizens to determine priorities. Some of the ventures being considered are high-ticket items that I am struggling to even discuss as we wrangle with the issue of water in our county.
I believe water has to be our first priority.
In order to do that, we have to distinguish between wants and needs. We have to realize that taxpayers’ money is not endless, we need to find more ways to create opportunities for private and public partnerships that will allow us to have recreational activities without having to take from resources that are currently needed elsewhere.
I’m open to your ideas. Please don’t hesitate to call me or email me at Paul@CozzensCabinets.com.
Paul Cozzens serves on the Cedar City Council, the Central Iron County Water Conservancy board and the Groundwater Management Plan Committee.
CICWCD Has an App
Friday, July 1, 2016
NEW APP ENCOURAGES RESIDENTS TO TAKE ACTION AND KNOW MORE ABOUT THEIR WATER HABITS
CEDAR CITY, UT (July 1, 2016)- Central Iron County Water Conservancy District (CICWCD) unveiled their new app today. The app is free to everyone in Iron County. Those with the app can alert the District of water waste and view conservation tips and programs. In addition, the app allows District customers to pay bills, monitor their water usage, submit service requests, directly message the District, and compare their water use to similar homes in the area.
Paul Monroe, General Manager of CICWCD, said he hopes the new app will encourage customer engagement by making it easy for homeowners to see their water habits. The app is tied to an online customer portal where customers can view the same information by computer as on their mobile devices.
The CICWCD app is now available in the App Store and the Play Store for both android and apple mobile devices. Search “CICWCD” to find it. For more information, contact CICWCD at 435-865-9901.
CENTRAL IRON COUNTY WATER CONSERVANCY DISTRICT AND UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION TO HOST ANNUAL 4TH GRADE WATER FAIR
Thursday, March 10, 2016
CEDAR CITY, UT (March 9, 2016)- The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District is hosting the third annual Fourth Grade Water Fair on March 21st and 22nd at the Cedar City Aquatic Center from 9:30am-2:40pm. The goal of the fair is to teach fourth graders about water and conservation while having fun. One of the fun and memorable stations is one by Mackay Steffensen, a professor at SUU, who does explosions and experiments centered around water. Chad Reid with USU Extension does a water taste test. Students get to sample local water, bottled water, salt water, and “polluted” water (Don’t worry, it is safe! It is water colored to represent pollution).
The water fair will have a total of nine stations each focusing on an aspect of water. The stations are: Wonders of Water, Bubbleology, Water Rights/Water Cycle, Bugs Don’t Bug Me, Jeopardy-H2Know, Cloud Formation, Enviroscapes, Water World, and Water Conservation. The class that wins Jeopardy will receive a pizza party at a later date.
Learning about the water cycle is part of the fourth grade curriculum outlined by the state. The Water Fair will go along with what students are learning in class to further their knowledge of water and conservation.
Large infographics with fun toilet facts will be dropped off at the schools on Monday March 14th (one week before the Water Fair) to get students excited. The infographics will go along with the annual theme, “What’s all the Flush About?”. At the end of the fair, students will be given a handout with toilet tablets attached. When dropped into the toilet tank, color will seep into the toilet bowl if there is a leak, usually due to a faulty flapper.
For more information or questions, you can reach CICWCD at 435-865-9901 or email Shelby@cicwcd.org.
Water Conservancy employee finds missing Washington state man
Thursday, March 10, 2016
A man reported missing in Washington state was found Wednesday west of Cedar City, nearly 1,100 miles from his home, by a Central Iron County Water Conservancy District employee who was out performing routine checks on water tanks.
The 72 year-old man was reported missing by family members in Onalaska, Washington, approximately two weeks ago, said Iron County Sheriff’s Lt. Del Schlosser.
“The family reported he was recently diagnosed with medical conditions related to memory loss,” Schlosser said. “They had been tracking him through credit card receipts in northeast Utah and Arizona.”
Tracy Feltner, the Water Conservancy employee who found the man, said he was performing routine checks at a water tank near 4600 West and 4400 North when he spotted a Jeep in the middle of a dirt road at approximately 8 a.m.
“I stopped and couldn’t see anybody that needed assistance so I continued down the road about a mile and there was a man lying in the middle of the road with no shirt or shoes on,” he said. “He was freezing and was possibly lying out there all night so I called 911.”
Feltner had three extra coats in his truck that he used to warm the man up, and an ICSO deputy had a blanket that was also used until an ambulance could make it to the scene.
Schlosser said there is still no clear reason why the man was so far from home, but his family was grateful to have him found.
“We still don’t know why he was out there,” he said. “He didn’t seem to be injured, but the ambulance reported his body temperature to be really low, so he was out there for some time. There were no mechanical problems found with the Jeep – its still a mystery.”
The man was responsive, Feltner said, but could not make conversation.
“He was just moaning a lot,” he said. “It was a sad deal. I am just happy we found him and were able to help the family with some closure. It’s always terrible when someone close to you suffers from memory loss.”
Schlosser said the man was taken to Valley View Medical Center (soon to be named Cedar City Hospital).
Follow Haven Scott @HavenWScott. Call him at 435-865-4522.
Overappropriation of water rights threatens Iron County
Sunday, January 10, 2016
CEDAR CITY — Too many appropriated water rights and years of less-than-average snowpacks are among the reasons state officials list for wanting to create a groundwater management plan for restoring the rapidly depleting aquifer that, at current yields, cannot continue to meet water demands in Iron County.
In a recent meeting at Cedar High School, representatives from the Utah Division of Water Rights warned residents the aquifer is feeding more water into the community than is available, resulting in it being overmined.
“So running just a simple math balance equation, if 28,000 (acre feet) is going out and an additional 7,000 (acre feet) is being reduced, that means we’re getting about 20,000 acre feet recharge to that aquifer annually every year,” James Greer, assistant state engineer for Division of Water Rights, said.
Part of the reason for the deficit in the aquifer, Greer said, lays at the feet of state officials who appropriated more water rights in the 1960s than were available in Iron County. However, while state officials said they have overappropriated water rights, not all of those rights are being used.
There are a lot of water rights and we are currently going through and looking at those right now
“We actually have approved ground water rights for something around 76,000 acre-feet of diversion and 50,000 for depletion,” Greer said. These are very rough estimates. There are a lot of water rights and we are currently going through and looking at those right now. It’s hard to come up with some of those estimates because a lot of water rights aren’t clearly defined.”
Lower-than-normal precipitation for two decades has also taken a toll on the aquifer. This year however, precipitation is 125 percent above normal, Paul Monroe, manager for Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, said.
If that trend were to continue, it could make a difference in the overall groundwater management plan, Jones said.
“It definitely will change it. Hydrology changes, like I say and I referred to in the meeting, if we could just have the mid-’80s over and over again — the (re)charge started to show,” he said. “We started to build the groundwater back up and things were looking not too bad in some areas of the valley. But as soon the really wet years went away, it went back. So there may be something, that as part of this plan, that we’ll have to look at the hydrologic cycles and see where we are and maybe we have to do less restriction on those wetter years.”
Several concerned residents in the meeting shared their opinions and questions about the issue at hand with many of them worried about the future.
Iron County resident Brenda Bybee spoke about her fears regarding Cedar City’s master water plan and the negative effect it may have on the water available for the wells in her neighborhood located west of Quitchupah Lake.
We can’t have certain people just sucking all the water out of the lake
“I’d like to know how — who’s going to be responsible? We can’t have certain people just sucking all the water out of the lake,” Bybee told Cedar City News. “You need to see this Cedar City master water plan. Not only are they putting in a number of wells … but the depth they are drilling to — it’s like putting a huge straw in a big deep straw while the little straws around aren’t going to be able to suck out the water that we need.”
Following the meeting, Cedar City Councilman Paul Cozzens said local leaders are aware of the issues with Quitchupah Lake and worked on finding alternatives.
“Quitchupah has a lot of evaporation and that water just goes to waste. The Quitchupah area has such a layer of clay and silt that’s been built over centuries that it can’t allow that water to naturally percolate and recharge the aquifer so we’ve looked at different efforts to do that,” he said.
Cozzens pointed to other efforts the city and the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District are pursuing to try to improve the water problems. This includes using the water in Coal Creek to help recharge the aquifer.
“We take some of the coal creek water that is cleaner during the early runoff and … it’s got a lot of silt and different things in it so we can’t really recharge with that because the silt plugs up the recharge basins,” Cozzens said. “So in wintertime when that water is clean, we can take that water and put it right into the aquifer and there’s actually a section by the airport that we do that.”
There have also been efforts by the CICWCD to import new water from the west desert in Wah Wah Valley.
We know we need other sources of water in addition to conservation-recharge
“It (water) is a serious problem and that’s one reason we’re working as a district — as a water district — on the west desert efforts and we’ve been pursuing that for a long time and spent a lot of resources on importing water from those other basins,” Cozzens, who is also a member of the CICWCD board, said. “That’s something we’ve been working on aggressively because we know we need other sources of water in addition to conservation-recharge.”
The state water engineer, Kent Jones, however, said the importation of the water from Wah Wah valley will not make a big difference in the regulation of the current groundwater.
“The plan we will have of existing water and existing annual recharge – I don’t think it’s (new water) going to make much of a difference, but this new water will help solve some of the problems,” he said.
In 2007, the state began working with local residents in the Beryl-Enterprise area to develop a similar groundwater management plan allowed for under Utah Code 73-5-15.
The groundwater had been pumped faster than it could be recharged
The plan was proposed in that area after state officials determinedthe groundwater had been pumped faster than it could be recharged, also called groundwater overmining. The state water engineer adopted the 118-year plan in 2012.
According to the plan, the goal was for the total water depletion to be reduced over time until it matched the safe yield including the elimination of water rights, with the newest water rights eliminated first.
The process to develop a groundwater management plan in Iron County would take a similar amount of time as in the Beryl-Enterprise area, Greer said. By then however, local leaders said they are hopeful they will be well underway to developing the water in the west desert currently tied up in the courts.
Tracy Sullivan – Ed. Note: Cedar City News | CedarCityUtah.com is a counterpart to St. George News | StGeorgeNews.com.
Water festival makes a splash in Cedar City
Sunday, June 21, 2015
By Haven Scott St. George Daily Spectrum
The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District held its first Water Festival at the Main Street Park on Saturday, soaking everyone looking for a way to beat the heat and learn about conservation.
The event had several booths from vendors displaying information for more efficient sprinkler systems, free food for the community, a fire engine hosing down children squealing in delight, numerous water balloon fights, to displays set up to educate children and their parents — everything water related.
Paul Monroe, general manager of CICWCD, said it might sound odd that a company dedicated to conservancy is out hosing down children, but the water used for the event is really not that much.
“We went back and crunched the numbers and it takes approximately 36,264 gallons of water to water Main Street Park and give it a half inch of water, which is standard for this time of year,” he said. “Our estimates of the water that will be used for today’s event will be about 6,000 gallons, roughly a sixth of what we would use in one day. It is sunny so some of that will evaporate but the rest is going straight into the lawn so we don’t consider it wasting the water.”
There has been drought in recent years and the CICWCD has installed new smart controllers in Hillcrest, Ridge and Three Peaks Elementary parks, saving 1.2 million gallons of water in just three months, Monroe said.
“Water is life; we are trying to promote conservation,” he said. “The event is an effort to get people to come and look at the resources that are available to them. There is a lot of new technology out there and we needed to have an event to showcase that for homeowners and businesses. We do a similar event for fourth graders in the area – we thought this would be a good event to educate the pubic as well. We are trying to show what these smart controllers can save. The amount of water we are using today is very minimal to what we have saved already.”
Candace Schaible, landscape educator for CICWCD, said residents with sprinklers can contact the district for a free evaluation of their systems to see if they are wasting water.
“We turn your system on and spread out cups to measure how much your system is putting out,” she said. “Then we will detail you a plan on how much you need to water, when and for how long. It just makes life easier on the homeowner. We get a lot of great feedback from those who have had the evaluation because a lot of people are not educated on when and how to water their lawns, or how much a lawn needs to survive without wasting water.”
Susan Leslie with sustainable operations in the Dixie National Forest Service told children about the dangers of polluting natural water resources.
“We are showing the children about water sheds and how to protect them,” she said. “We use a model showing how when it rains and snows it goes up on the mountain first, then comes back down into the streams, lakes and aquifers. And we teach them that is where we get our drinking water, so to pollute those with pesticides or waste is dangerous for us.”
Water district discusses West Desert test wells, processes with BLM Read more: Iron County Today – Water district discusses West Desert test wells processes with BLM
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
by Ashley Langston, Reporter
IRON COUNTY – While the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District is still involved in litigation regarding the 21,525 acre-feet of water rights the state engineer approved in 2014, it is moving forward with federal processes to drill more test wells in Pine Valley.
The valley is northwest of Cedar City next to Wah Wah Valley, and the district was awarded 15,000 acre-feet of water there. While Beaver County is contesting the water right approval, the attorney for the CICWCD believes precedent is in their favor and the district is moving forward to get approval from the Bureau of Land Management to drill test wells.
Representatives from the BLM Cedar City Field Office attended a special meeting of the CICWCD on June 4, and discussed the environmental processes required for the test wells and the project as a whole, as well as potential issues that would need to be mitigated.
They said the biggest concern will probably be sage grouse, although they will also have to look at Utah Prairie Dogs, mule deer and pronghorn habitat, and cultural considerations (meaning an archeologist will need to examine the area).
A National Environmental Policy Act document will need to be prepared before test wells can be drilled, and if cultural and biological surveys are done beforehand, the process could take as few as three months, one of the BLM representatives said.
CICWCD Executive Director Paul Monroe said they are realistically anticipating drilling the test wells in summer 2016, between the NEPA process, winter weather, and possible sage grouse issues.
The BLM representatives said if any of the proposed drilling sites are near sage grouse “leks,” that could hold up the process, at least during February, March and April. They said the protected birds breed in locations called leks, and then the females lay their eggs around that location for about four miles and they cannot be disturbed.
Monroe said the district has data indicating high volumes of good water toward the north end of Pine Valley, but geologists feel they will find good water toward the south end of the valley as well and that would decrease piping costs, so they need to drill test wells to confirm. If they find what they anticipate, they will just drill bigger wells next to the test wells in the future, and the test wells will become monitoring wells.
A BLM representative at the meeting said the agency has certain resources it has to consider, and examine how the district’s actions will affect those resources. It has to identify those impacts to make the public aware and determine what stipulations will be put into place.
“There shouldn’t really be a lot of big surprises,” she added.
Those present on behalf of the BLM included Elizabeth Burghard, Cedar City Field Office manager; Gina Ginouves, BLM planning and NEPA specialist; Michelle Campeau, BLM realty specialist; and Brooklynn Shotwell, a BLM land law examiner intern.
Monroe said he felt the BLM representatives were very supportive and they are a great agency to work with. Those in the Cedar City Field Office have a “can-do attitude,” he added.
While the primary focus is on the West Desert, the district is also continuing work on other projects, including the aquifer recharge project that would capture excess spring runoff or rainwater and filter it into the aquifer instead of allowing it to evaporate in Quichapa Lake and Rush Lake.
CICWCD Board Chair Brent Hunter said in the meeting that so much rain had fallen in recent weeks, and it was really a shame that so much of it was not able to be used or put into the aquifer. He said he believes that some years that project would save the valley 10,000 to 20,000 acre feet of water.
“That’s by far the cheapest way to save water is that Coal Creek recharge,” he said.
Monroe said the district is still working with the Utah National Guard and getting the proper permits from the state to make the project happen. It is anticipated in summer 2017.
Water Conservancy District, Southwest Plumbing partner for Water Festival Read more: Iron County Today – Water Conservancy District Southwest Plumbing partner for Water Festival
Monday, June 8, 2015
CEDAR CITY – The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District and Southwest Plumbing Supply invite the community to the first annual Water Festival to be held at Main Street Park on June 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This festival will help promote water conservation throughout Iron County and will showcase water efficient home products, irrigation and landscape equipment, consulting and professional services, and other technologies.
Local businesses will be on hand to host booths, provide services and sell product, which include rainwater harvesting for irrigation, irrigation controllers that can be operated from your smartphone, drought tolerant plants, turf, and many other water-saving concepts and devices.
Even with the 3-plus inches of rain Iron County received during the month of May, the area is still dealing with several years of below-average precipitation. The goal of this event is to educate community members by giving them the information and resources available that will help make conserving water easier and a habitual part of our lives.
The festival will include free hot dogs, food trucks, bounce houses and water friendly activities for the kids. The festival is a member of Cedar City Unplugged and will host a water balloon fight to earn the “Water Warrior” brag badge. There will be 10,000 water balloons and the brag badge can be picked up at the CICWCD booth.
Other activities include a dunk tank, slip n’ slide and water sprayed from the Cedar City fire truck. The total water to be used in all activities will be less than 6,000 gallons. The festival activities will use less than 1/6 of the water needed to irrigate the park in just one night. The approximate water needed to irrigate the Main Street Park in one night is 36,264 gallons.
Come join in the events. Bring your family and have fun learning how you can do your part to help conserve this precious natural resource. Everyone big, small, short, tall, old or young can play a big part in ensuring water for our future. Organizers would also like to thank local business sponsors for their support in making this event possible for our community.
For information, visit http://www.cicwcd.org/water-festival or call CICWCD at (435) 865-9901.
CICWCD to hold first Water Festival
Sunday, May 24, 2015
By Haven Scott St. George Daily Spectrum
The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District is partnering with local businesses to promote water conservation at its first Water Festival on June 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Main Street Park.
Paul Monroe, general manager at CICWCD, said the event is to promote the need to conserve water, but in a fun way that attracts kids and families.
“The festival will showcase new technologies for landscaping and watering applications, and things like harvesting rainwater for garden use,” he said. “But we will have a fire truck there spraying water for the kids, a dunk tank, games and bounce houses, as well as free hamburgers and hotdogs.”
The CICWCD has held a similar festival for local fourth graders and decided to expand that to the public and businesses in Cedar City, Monroe said.
“We have been going through a drought these last four years and we thought this would be a time to get the community involved,” he said. “With the technology out there we just thought there has to be a better way to get the community involved.”
Candace Schaible, a CICWCD employee helping with the event, said there are newer versions of smart controllers available for homeowners to prevent over watering.
“They even have controllers that run from your phone,” she said. “So if you are not at home and it starts raining you can shut off your sprinklers from your phone.”
Monroe said even though they are using water to make the event fun, with the firetruck, water balloons and dunk tank, they are still looking to promote conservancy.
“The amount of water used will be equal to that used in one park in one day,” he said. “With the hopes that people can see the need to conserve water in these drought years.”
Follow Haven Scott @HavenWScott. Call him at 435-865-4522
Water Fair educates fourth grade students about water conservation Read more: Iron County Today – Water Fair educates fourth grade students about water conservation
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
By Corey Baumgartner, Reporter Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY – Just under 800 Iron County fourth graders flowed through the Cedar City Aquatic center March 9-10 for the second annual Water Fair, sponsored by the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District.
Throughout the day, classrooms and learning stations were set up and volunteers from around the state, including Utah State University and the Dixie National Forest, taught the students about the journey of the water cycle, pollution, clouds, dams, leaky faucets and toilets and ways to use water more wisely.
Because the water cycle and water conservancy is part of the fourth grade curriculum, the water fair fits perfectly into the students’ learning.
“We do this fun and educational event to complement their classroom curriculum,” Candace Schaible, of CICWCD and USU Extension, said.
Rick Webster, a Cedar City native who now works for the Utah Division of Water as its education specialist, travels all over the country teaching kids about water education.
“It’s fun to see their excitement and try to get them to change the world,” Webster said. “Water conservation comes down to you choosing to be more efficient.” He also challenged the students to “pick at least one thing at home that you can fix, or be better at.”
Each learning station provided a different conversation about conservation, and at one of the more interactive stations, Marcia Gilles and Holly Hadley, from the Dixie National Forest Service, set up a three-dimensional enviroscape to demonstrate the dangers of pouring chemicals, or oils down the drain, or toilet, and what happened when fertilizers, or animal manure seep down into the water supply. Several students with spray bottles simulated a rainstorm and watched how water sources can become polluted if not protected.
Nicki Frey, a wildlife biologist, demonstrated that if all the water in the world could fit into two 5-gallon buckets, three cups would be polluted, one cup would be frozen fresh water, and to the students’ surprise, only about nine drops would be available for drinking. She also made sure to remind the students the importance of protecting that precious percentage of water.
“We can’t create more water, but we can pollute it and ruin it for drinking,” she said, giving an example of how only one gallon of motor oil seeping through the ground can contaminate one million gallons of water.
The students also enjoyed participating in the game show, “Water Jeopardy,” where classes were quizzed on their knowledge of water. Some of the questions asked students about the number of inches of snow required to make one inch of water, the source of energy that drives the water cycle, and how much water can a dripping faucet waste per day. The correct answers were 12 inches, the sun, and 4 gallons, respectively.
The winning class received a pizza party and this year two classes, LeAnn Roberts’ class from Three Peaks Elementary and Suzie Palladino’s class from North Elementary, tied for the prize.
Iron County works for water rights, pipeline
Thursday, March 5, 2015
This is the last in a series of six articles about water in Iron County. The articles began publication Jan. 28 and have been published weekly.
IRON COUNTY – Nearly eight years after filing on water rights in valleys northwest of Cedar City, the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District was given welcome news that water rights had been approved, but it quickly learned the valley’s water future was still not secure and its work was far from over.
County commissioners, CICWCD board members, and other government officials have repeatedly said importing water is necessary to Iron County’s future. After years of examining the Lake Powell Pipeline option, the district withdrew from the project, placing its hopes on receiving water rights in Pine, Wah Wah, and Hamlin valleys, all northwest of Cedar Valley.
Iron County Commissioner Dale Brinkerhoff said bringing in water from those valleys is crucial.
“Long-term it’s probably the life-blood of the county,” he said. “We have to import water from someplace.”
Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller said the West Desert water is “essential for the health of our aquifer. It’s monumental in its importance.”
CICWCD Executive Director Paul Monroe said the district will need the support of government officials, businesses, local organizations, and individual residents to get the water to Iron County.
“Everybody in the whole community is going to have to come together to see it happen, and it’s got to happen, because the alternative of doing nothing will be the greatest downfall of the area,” he said.
Because of overdrafting, or taking out more each year than is being recharged, the water table has dropped in some areas of the valley by as much as 114 feet between 1939 and 2009, according to a Utah Geological Survey study. District Engineer Kelly Crane, of Ensign Engineering, said as the aquifer, or underground water source, is depleted, sediments compact and capacity is actually lost. The underground aquifer is the valley’s reservoir and needs to be recharged and then kept in balance.
In addition to the need to stop overdrafting the aquifer, the district is also responsible for providing water for Iron County’s growth, which the Utah Foundation projects at 129 percent over 40 years.
Shawn Draney, CICWCD legal counsel from Snow, Christensen & Martineau in Salt Lake City, said that growth rate will primarily be children who grow up in the county and choose to stay, rather than new people moving in.
The district applied for the West Desert water rights in 2006, and in 2011, after years of the applications sitting with no action, the CICWCD partnered with other agencies on a study to determine the capacity of the Wah Wah and Pine Valley aquifers. Test wells were funded by the district, Utah Division of Water Rights, Bureau of Land Management, and United States Geological Survey, Monroe said.
While the study has not yet been officially released by the USGS, preliminary data was available to the state engineer, and the CICWCD’s applications for water rights were approved May 13, 2014 for 15,000 acre-feet in Pine Valley and 6,525 acre-feet in Wah Wah Valley. The Hamlin Valley filings remain unruled on.
One day later, the state engineer approved the 2012 filing of a company named Utah Alunite for 6,500 acre-feet of water in Wah-Wah Valley, for a period of 20 years or until the CICWCD began to export water. However, on June 19 the state engineer issued an amended order that extended Utah Alunite’s right to 30 years, allowed it to be used in conjunction with the CICWCD’s right (which based on preliminary numbers would exceed safe yield of the aquifer by nearly double), and suggested the company may be able to apply for an extension of the right beyond 30 years.
This amended order made district board members and legal counsel uncomfortable, and they filed an appeal. Utah Alunite, a subsidiary of the Canadian company Potash Ridge, which is working to develop a Wah Wah Valley phosphate project on School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration property, also filed against the amended order.
Beaver County jumped in with litigation of its own, and the CICWCD was quickly involved in five legal cases regarding the West Desert water.
Draney said some portions of the cases have been dismissed and some of the litigation has been consolidated, so the district now has two cases in district court and one that has gone to the court of appeals.
The state engineer’s June order reported he believed the mining project is likely to begin within a few years, and the CICWCD project will “take many years to acquire necessary permits, secure funding, and to complete construction.”
Monroe said optimistic estimates are that construction could actually begin in as few as seven to 10 years.
Draney said although state law deems the first application filed to be priority (as long as it meets the state’s criteria for a water right), Utah Alunite has argued that its use of the water will happen sooner, so it should get a jump in priority.
“From our perspective we have dead certain growth that dead certain needs water, and they have a project that’s rather speculative,” he said of Utah Alunite.
Monroe said the district absolutely wants to see the mine established and succeed, but its responsibility is first to provide water for the citizens of Iron County and ensure the possibility for growth.
“We’re not willing to create a community where our children have to leave,” he said, adding, “We’d love the Utah Alunite project to work and we’ve said over and over again we’ll find a way to accommodate it.”
Monroe said the district has had recent positive interactions with Beaver County, Utah Alunite, and SITLA, and hopes to come to an agreement that can end all lawsuits.
Draney said in the litigation involving Beaver County, the issue before the court is basically whether Beaver County has a right to water found underneath its lands, and he believes statute, policy and history are contrary to that.
“We haven’t ever drawn county lines on water before,” he said, citing several projects that import water to the Wasatch front from other counties.
“We’ve always had tradition that we don’t take people to the water, we bring the water to the people,” Draney added.
According to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, Beaver County’s 2010 population was 6,629 and it is projected to grow to about 13,502 by 2060. Iron County’s population is expected to jump from 46,270 to 127,795 in the same 50 year period.
Miller said water is an emotional issue, with many “potentially contentious challenges,” but he has appreciated working with the CICWCD, Beaver County, SITLA and other interested parties and has been able to empathize with all involved.
“When we work together … we can settle those (emotions) down,” he said.
Monroe said assuming the court cases work out in the district’s favor, the district plans to develop the Pine Valley water rights first, followed by the Wah Wah Valley rights. The Wah Wah water is needed in 25 years, and the Pine Valley water would have been helpful “yesterday,” he added.
Miller said the county has been working as a cooperating agency with the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies in anticipation of the BLM’s Resource Management Plan that the Cedar City Field Office has been working on, and the pipeline has been included in that RMP.
The pipeline to bring West Desert water to the CICWCD system is part of the Iron County General Plan and Resource Management Plan, he said, adding that “it’s important that the needs of our community are placed as very high priority by federal law as federal agencies develop their plans.”
Miller said the BLM employees in Iron County understand the area’s need to import water, and there are positive relationships between the federal agency and local government.
“We’ve been appreciative of the good planning efforts that we have seen working with the BLM,” he said. “They are in harmony with our expectations.”
Crane said the next step is to formally identify sites for wells by drilling test holes. An environmental process will be required first, and with community support and funding, he hopes that will take place within the next year.
Once well sites are determined, the district plans to start the additional National Environmental Policy Act process for the entire corridor, which will most likely take three to four years, Crane said. Though there are some potential concerns with sage grouse and prairie dogs, he hopes following corridors that are already established, as much as possible, will be helpful. The pipeline would primarily be buried along railroad tracks and roads.
Crane said there are several low-interest funding options the district is exploring, and they are evaluating options to make it a “green project” by installing wind turbines and solar panels to power the necessary pumping. There is also a possibility of generating hydroelectric power with the Pine Valley water.
Monroe said building these options in will minimize operations costs and make the project more attractive to available “green” funding.
The cost to bring water from Pine Valley is estimated at $150 million, with the Wah Wah water tying into that later at maybe around one-third the cost, Crane said. Most funding available would be for a 40- to 50-year period.
Monroe said the options to pay the debt include increasing water rates, increasing taxes and using impact fees. No decisions have yet been made whether to use one of those options or a combination.
“I think all the citizens will end up pitching in a little to help make it happen,” he said. “Everyone in Cedar Valley is a water user.”
He said since 2006, the CICWCD has spent just less than $1 million on the West Desert water, between legal fees, aquifer studies, engineering and other expenses.
Miller complimented the seven-member CICWCD board, which includes representatives from communities and interests throughout the district, for all its hard work to get to this point.
“The board that serves for the water conservancy district is an all-volunteer board and the members of the board are dedicated and they do a lot of good service for our community, and I appreciate them,” he said.
The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District Board of Directors meets the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Cedar City Council Chambers, at 10 N. Main St. in Cedar City. Monroe said they encourage the public to attend and get involved. For meeting agendas and information, visit http://www.cicwcd.org.
Conservation a piece of the water puzzle
This is the fourth in a series of six articles about water in Iron County. The first published Jan. 28 and the articles will run weekly through March 4.
IRON COUNTY – The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District is continually looking for ways to stop the decline of water levels in Cedar Valley’s underground water supply, and has taken into consideration the need for conservation, and the changes that could occur to the valley’s water use as growth occurs.
Conservation is an obvious first step. With that in mind, the district created the Water Conservation Advisory Board to research and promote water conservation.
Cedar City resident Doug Hall serves as advisory board chair and Candace Schaible, CICWCD and Utah State University Extension water-wise landscape and horticulture educator, along with representatives from Southern Utah University, the Iron County School District, Cedar City Corporation, Enoch City Corporation, and businesses Southwest Plumbing Supply and Rocky Ridge Landscape Rock also serve on the board.
So far, the board has worked primarily with Cedar City and the school district to encourage better management of water resources, since the two organizations are some of the largest water users in the area because of parks and fields, Hall said.
The CICWCD purchased new smart controllers for the sprinkler systems at two Cedar City parks and at Three Peaks Elementary, and the city and ICSD are tracking the amount of water potentially saved with the new controllers.
Hall said he hopes the results will be positive enough that the city and school district will be motivated to install more smart controllers and as a result, save more water.
In June, when the Three Peaks controller was installed, Hunter Shaheen, Iron County School District’s energy manager, said the pilot project was another step in the right direction for the school district, which has worked the past few years to balance attractive grounds and fields with fiscal responsibility and water conservation. While there were still some challenges, particularly with sprinkler systems with no central control box (primarily at older schools that have had building additions), the district has made strides since 2011, decreasing water use by about 36 percent, Shaheen said.
Hall said he has had positive conversations with Cedar City officials and he feels the city is making water conservation more of a priority as well.
The advisory board’s next focus will be on businesses to encourage business owners, landscape companies and building owners to manage their water use. The focus after that will be on residents in general, Hall said. He added that while the bigger water users have been the primary focus, things have been done on all levels and conservation efforts will continue. Free sprinkler checks for individuals and businesses have been performed by Schaible the past couple summers, and water-wise education has been offered for landscapers.
County Commissioner Dale Brinkerhoff said conservation is important and residents should be “practical,” finding a balance between wise water use and a good quality of life.
While the CICWCD is certainly working on conservation, board members know conservation alone cannot bring the aquifer back into balance.
Agriculture as a whole is the largest water user in Iron County, as 532,464 acres (about 25 percent of the county’s land), were farmland in 2012, according to the Utah Foundation.
Agriculture is also an important part of Iron County’s heritage, and District General Manager Paul Monroe said county officials and the CICWCD board want to keep that heritage intact.
“It’s not our purpose to go out and buy out all the farmland in Iron County and subdivide it. If it happens naturally, it happens,” he said.
Brinkerhoff said all water in Utah is owned by the state, and rights are granted and controlled by the state, which is appropriate. It is a system that works, he said.
Those on a state level are also concerned with the health of the Cedar Valley aquifer and now monitor agricultural water users throughout Utah. Kurt Vest, regional engineer for the Utah Division of Water Rights Southwestern Regional Office, said just in the past year, the state has begun mapping water use in Iron County, and while it mainly keeps track of large irrigators, the majority of water users in Utah are tracked to ensure they are within their rights.
Vest said as the county grows, some agricultural land will naturally be converted to residential neighborhoods, and though the water right will remain the same, less water will generally be used.
Vest added that while many believe agricultural water rights are reduced or “cut” when they are transferred over to residential use, that is not true. One-acre foot of water right is 1 acre-foot even if it changes hands from a farmer to a municipality, he said.
Though agricultural to residential conversion will likely result in less water consumption, it will not make too much difference in the overall picture. Monroe said the aquifer is already being overdrawn and there are many unused water rights on paper that technically can be put to use as the population grows, further mining the aquifer.
In the Beryl and Enterprise area, when it was found that almost double the sustainable yield of water was being removed from the aquifer each year, the state engineer got involved and mandated that water rights would have to be retired.
The Beryl Enterprise Groundwater Management Plan was adopted in 2012, and requires 3,250 acre-feet of water rights be retired in 2030 and 2050, and the same amount every 10 years after that until the available water rights are in line with the average recharge.
This strategy has been rejected by the CICWCD board. Board members feel there are much more desirable options than cutting water rights.
Although the district’s efforts in conservation and the future transition of agricultural land are part of the picture, neither will provide enough water to bring the aquifer into balance or accommodate future growth. For information about the district’s large-scale projects, look for the next article in the series on Feb. 25.
Declining water level, sinking land highlight water problem
This is the third in a series of six articles about water in Iron County. The first published Jan. 28 and the articles will run weekly through March 4.
IRON COUNTY – Since at least the 1960s, more water has been removed from Cedar Valley’s underground water supply than has been replenished, and that problem is only getting worse.
This means declining water levels, higher pumping costs, and the reality that the valley could eventually run out of water if action is not taken. With the knowledge of this problem, the Iron County Commission created the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District in 1997, under the Utah Water Conservancy District Act.
The CICWCD is controlled by a seven-member board of directors, with each member appointed by the Iron County Commission. Currently, members come from each community in the district, with an agricultural representative as well. The district has the responsibility to “conserve, develop and stabilize supplies of water” for the Cedar Valley, according to its website, http://www.cicwcd.org.
Many small population counties in Utah have also created water conservancy districts, such as Kane, Uintah, Duchesne and Box Elder, and some water conservancy districts have been created for larger geographical areas, such as the Central Utah, Washington County, Weber Basin and Jordan Valley Water Conservancy Districts, said Jack Barnett, of Barnett Intermountain Water Consulting, a company working with the CICWCD.
Water conservancy districts were created because city and town officials are responsible for looking out for their individual municipalities and water is a “larger geographical issue,” Barnett said. Even county commissioners, as elected officials, “may not have the tenure to address long-term planning and implementation strategies necessary for water development.”
The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District is tasked with conserving, developing and stabilizing existing supplies of water for the use of residents, agriculture and livestock, manufacturing, power, wildlife, and aquatic life, according to its mission statement.
The mission statement stresses the importance of water for communities, industry, and irrigation. The CICWCD’s geographical area includes much of unincorporated Iron County, Cedar City, Enoch, and Kanarraville.
The district is also responsible for developing additional water supplies and should “plan for, finance, design and construct reservoirs, pipelines, water distribution systems, wells, drainage improvements and other improvements necessary to utilize water supplies within the CICWCD boundaries.”
After its formation, the district cooperated with Cedar City, Enoch, and state and federal agencies to initiate a new study, which was published in 2005 by the U.S. Geological Survey. The study confirmed concerns that the Cedar Valley was using too much water, Barnett said. The underground aquifer was being overdrawn, or more water was being pumped out than was being regenerated.
An average of 9,100 acre-feet of water is being removed each year in excess of what is replaced (an acre-foot of water is about 325,851 gallons). Additionally, groundwater levels have dropped in some areas of the valley by as much as 114 feet since 1939, Barnett said.
In 2010, the Utah Geological Survey released a study reporting that fissures, or cracks in the earth, were forming and growing in the Enoch and Quichapa Lake areas because water users were overdrawing the aquifer and the land was subsiding, or sinking. An amended version of the study was released in 2014 as Special Study 150, which can be found at http://www.geology.utah.gov.
The original study was contested by Cedar City Surveyor Curt Neilson and other licensed surveyors who said the UGS had violated state law by surveying without a license, and that the subsidence data it had provided was inaccurate. In 2011, when the CICWCD board rejected the study, Neilson said he believed subsidence was not a wide-spread problem in the valley, but actually was a localized problem near fissures in the Quichapa and north Enoch areas.
The 2014 study reported a less significant amount of subsidence, but expressed concern with possible growth of the fissures. Monroe said some board members and area residents feel geographic features or other factors may be contributing to the fissures.
Tyler Knudsen, UGS project geologist, said the Enoch fissure is located along a fault, and although there are reports of the fissure dating back 50 years or more, aerial photographs show that it appears to be growing, extending south in the last 20 to 30 years.
“It’s obvious that it’s currently moving,” he said.
Knudsen added that subsidence and fissures recorded by the UGS in the Cedar Valley follow the signs of aquifer overdrafting that have been seen in the Las Vegas area.
“Vegas is almost a perfect analog,” Knudsen said. “You can kind of look at Las Vegas as kind of a canary in a coal mine kind of situation for us.”
While not everyone in the Cedar Valley agrees on the amount of subsidence and cause of the fissures, it is widely accepted that the Cedar Valley aquifer discharge should not exceed the recharge, and action needs to be taken to bring it into balance and ensure a water supply for future generations.
Monroe said the district has been working on multiple solutions, including conservation and three large-scale projects that are exactly in line with the Utah Geological Survey’s recommendations to prevent over pumping and restore the aquifer.
For more information on the options that have been explored and action being taken, look for the upcoming articles in this weekly series.
Most recent article regarding the water future of the Cedar Valley
Court battles threaten Cedar Valley’s water future
IRON COUNTY – In an effort to ensure Cedar Valley’s future, the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District is currently involved in several legal battles over water in valleys to the northwest.
The Cedar Valley aquifer, an underground water source that supplies most of the water for communities and agricultural use in Cedar City, Enoch, Kanarraville, and much of unincorporated Iron County, is being overdrawn and the district has been hard at work to find more water for the area.
After rejecting the Lake Powell Pipeline project because of its high cost estimates, the district placed most of its hope for balancing the aquifer and providing for future growth on water rights applications filed in 2006 in three valleys – Pine (for 15,000 acre-feet), Wah Wah (for 12,000 acre-feet) and Hamlin (for 10,000 acre-feet).
When notice of those applications was published, a rain of protests were filed, mostly by the Beaver County government, Beaver County residents, and federal agencies. The state engineer had a hearing for those protests in 2010.
Jack Barnett, of Barnett Intermountain Water Consulting, a company working with the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, said in August 2012 another water right filing was made in the Wah Wah Valley. It was made by the company Utah Alunite, a subsidiary of the Canadian company Potash Ridge, which plans to develop a phosphate project in the Wah Wah Valley on School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration property.
The application requested water “almost on top of the well sites identified in the (2006) district filings,” he said.
On May 13, 2014 the CICWCD received approval on 15,000 acre-feet of water in the Pine Valley and 6,525 acre-feet of water in the Wah Wah Valley. The Hamblin Valley filings remain unruled on.
In a May 15 press release from the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, CICWCD General Manager Paul Monroe said since rejecting the Lake Powell project “the West Desert water has been referred to as Cedar Valley’s ‘last straw,’ or the ability to import water from another basin. The additional water from the West Desert will have the largest impact on restoring our aquifer levels, provide safe and reliable drinking water, and ensure there is a future for our children here in Iron County.”
“This water will have more of an impact on the future of Iron County than any single event that has happened in the past decade,” Monroe said in the release.
On May 14, 2014, the day after the CICWCD’s filings were approved, Utah Alunite received approval on its filing. The district expressed a desire to have a productive relationship with Utah Alunite, despite possible challenges.
However, on June 19 the state engineer issued an amended order that contained new language district board members and legal counsel found troubling.
Now, several legal cases are pending, including Utah Alunite’s appeal against the CICWCD’s water right, Utah Alunite’s appeal against the state as it contests the language in its water right, the CICWCD’s appeal against the state as it contests the language in its amended water right approval for the Wah Wah Valley, and two cases in which Beaver County is opposing the CICWCD.
Despite the legal challenges, the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District is moving ahead with the process of bringing the West Desert water to the Cedar Valley.
District Engineer Kelly Crane, of Ensign Engineering, said the district has determined the most desirable corridors for a pipeline, which would be underground and mostly follow existing roadways. The CICWCD has submitted those corridors to the Bureau of Land Management and the BLM is putting them into its in-process Resource Management Plan, which will go through the National Environmental Policy Act process.
The CICWCD also has a meeting scheduled with BLM and other federal representatives to discuss how to best approach the NEPA process for the West Desert pipeline project, Crane said.
While these federal processes can be lengthy, current estimates are that construction on the pipeline could begin in as few as seven to 12 years.
“We are constantly working on ways to make the project better and more efficient,” Crane said. “We are working hard now to do the preparation so that we can build the project appropriately and make it the most cost effective over the long term for the users of water here in the Cedar Valley.”
For more information on Cedar Valley’s water situation, the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, and what government agencies are doing to ensure the valley’s future, look for the next five articles in this series, running through March 4.
CICWCD strives for water conservation
By Cathy Wentz, The Spectrum
CEDAR CITY – The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District has bought three smart water controllers that will assist Cedar City and the Iron County School District in getting a handle on water usage during very dry times in the area.
Paul Monroe, general manager for the CICWCD, said the snowpack in the mountains has been approximately 40 percent for three years in a row, which means the Cedar Valley area has been under a drought during that time period.
He also said the Utah Geological Survey has estimated that the amount of water being overdrawn from the Cedar Valley Aquifer is 9,000 acre-feet yearly, which is higher than the 5,000 acre-foot estimate from the United States Geological Survey.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking to have the amount of water that we have … and nobody is really super-conscientious of their usage,” Monroe said.
As Monroe talked, employees of the CICWCD were busy digging a hole and a trench in the lawn at Three Peaks Elementary School in preparation for installing a water controller, the Weathermatic SmartLine.
The other two water controllers the water district purchased have already been installed in two Cedar City parks.
He said the water controller works by using a flow meter that calculates the amount of water that usually flows through the water lines, and if it detects a fluctuation indicating a problem, the meter will shut that line off.
Monroe used the example of a broken sprinkler head shooting off a lot of water and causing a pressure loss.
He said when the flow meter senses the problem, it sends out an alert text or email after shutting off the sprinkler line.
The controller can be monitored remotely by computer so that whoever monitors a particular sprinkler system is able to see whether it is running and even shut it down for a couple of days in case of rain.
Hunter Shaheen, energy manager for the ICSD and a member of the CICWCD conservation committee, said conserving water with the controller also will help the school district to conserve power and save money.
He said the district has been very proactive in its efforts to reduce costs during the past few years.
“At this point we’re not exactly sure what the difference is going to be,” Shaheen said. “We’re going to give it a good year or two and collect as much data as possible to see what the added benefit of having the smart controller on top of what our energy program has already been doing.”
Monroe said the water controllers cost an approximate total of $4,000 each.
The water district not only is taking new measures to conserve water in the face of drought conditions, but it is continuing its partnership with Iron County’s Utah State University Extension office.
Candace Schaible, water-wise landscape and horticulture educator for the CICWCD and USU Extension, is once again offering her and her interns’ services in conducting water checks — they assist county residents with watering their lawns in the most efficient way possible.
She said the water check involves placing cups over a lawn to learn how long it takes a homeowner’s irrigation system to apply a half-inch of water.
“That’s the ideal amount each time you water,” she said.
She also said many people call her to ask how long they should be running their sprinkler systems, but the amount of water going onto the lawn is the important aspect of lawn irrigation. There is a lot of variation because some homeowners may only need to run their sprinklers 10 minutes, while others must run their systems for a full hour.
Follow Cathy Wentz on Twitter, @CathleenWentz.
To schedule a water check:
Call Candace Schaible at 586-8132 to schedule a lawn water check. The water checks are available now and will remain available until mid-August.
WATER DISTRICT SECURES WATER FOR CEDAR VALLEY
May 15, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WATER DISTRICT SECURES WATER FOR CEDAR VALLEY
Cedar City, Utah
The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District (CICWCD) received an approved application of water rights from the State Engineer, in Pine and Wah Wah Valleys, for enough water to supply the citizens of Cedar Valley for the next 50-60 years.
Nearly a decade ago the District applied for water in Pine and Wah Wah Valleys within the West Desert and since have persistently been pursuing the process for an approved application. On May 13, 2014 the fruits of the labor paid off with the State Engineer approving a combined 21,525 acre feet (AC/FT) of water from Pine and Wah Wah Valleys. To put this into perspective all of the municipalities combined within Cedar Valley (Cedar, Enoch, Kanarraville and CICWCD) only use around 10,000 AC/FT annually.
The District initially applied for 12,000 AC/FT from Wah Wah Valley and 15,000 AC/FT from Pine Valley. The State Engineer approved the full 15,000 AC/FT in Pine and only 6,525 AC/FT in Wah Wah. To better understand the water resources in Wah Wah and Pine Valleys, in 2012, the District contracted with the USGS, Division of Water Rights and the BLM to conduct a new study. The data is still being gathered, but initial reports along with the previous USGS Technical Publication No. 47 provided the State Engineer with information to believe there was only 6,525 AC/FT available in Wah Wah Valley. We are happy with the results and happy for the future of Iron County.
The announcement of the added source of water to the Cedar Valley comes just two months after a special report was conducted by the Utah Geological Survey reporting that the Cedar Valley basin is using around 9,000 AC/FT per year more than what Mother Nature is providing. This is causing well levels to decline and pumping costs to increase as well as loss of storage capacity to our aquifer.
Since dropping out of the Lake Powell Pipeline the District has relied solely on variability of these applications. The West Desert water has been referred to as Cedar Valley’s “last straw”, or the ability to import water from another basin. The additional water from the West Desert will have the largest impact on restoring our aquifer levels, provide safe and reliable drinking water, and ensure there is a future for our children here in Iron County. Another large benefit to the residents of Iron County is that water will cost roughly ¼ of what the Lake Powell Pipeline estimates reported.
The purpose of the District as set forth by a vote by Iron County residents nearly 20 years ago was to develop and deliver clean and reliable water for our residents. The District is charged to look 50 years into the future to meet the demands of growth and insure water will be available. The newly acquired 21,525 AC/FT of water is a result of the foresight of these citizens who were concerned for the future of Iron County. This water will have more of an impact on the future of Iron County than any single event that has happened in the past decade. No natural resource has a greater significance for the future of Iron County than water.
This has been the District’s main priority for several years and we have spent a large amount of time and resources to accomplish our goal, but as with all waters in the west, the approval of this water has been full of challenges. We are pleased the State Engineer recognized potential future Wah Wah Valley needs, in a realistic manner. We have always been supportive of a cooperative relationship with Beaver County and its projects, and would like to congratulate SITLA and Utah Alunite on their recent approved application of 6,500 AC/FT in Wah Wah Valley. We hope this is the beginning of a renewed, ongoing, and productive relationship which exists between the communities involved.
What is being done about land Subsidence in Cedar Valley?
These Fissures have existed for well over 50 years but have recently settled or increased due to limited recharge to specific areas of the basin. Subsidence will continue to occur if the aquifer is not brought back to equilibrium. The CICWCD is working on three large scale projects that perfectly align with the mitigating recommendations expressed by the Utah Geological Survey to prevent over drafting and restore the aquifer.
What is being done about ground subsidence in Cedar Valley?
The first observance of the subsidence in Cedar Valley occurred in 2009 and since that time the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District (CICWCD) has been actively engaged in efforts to mitigate and reverse ground water depletion. The CICWCD was organized to insure water resources would be available for its citizens within its region 50 years into the future. We are charged to make sure our population has a reliable water source in Iron County for generations to come. The UGS Subsidence report that has been a work in progress the past five years has given recommendations to help the aquifer regain balance in Cedar Valley and the CICWCD has been in the planning stages of mitigating the issue since the occurrence. These include:
Import water from another basin
Increasing recharge to the Basin-Fill Aquifer
Dispersing high-discharge wells
Reducing groundwater withdrawals
Import water from another basin
During the height of the initial findings of the fissures CICWCD was involved with the Lake Powell Pipeline to import water from the Colorado River. After several years of study the CICWCD concluded that a pipeline from Lake Powell to Cedar City was not feasible. Luckily, for our residents in 2006 the CICWCD had been looking elsewhere for water and discovered two basins with unappropriated water. The CICWCD filed for 27,000 ac/ft of water in Pine and Wah Wah Valleys located North West of Cedar City. The application is still pending with the State Engineer and is anticipated to be approved later this year when the compilation of a three year study partnered between the USGS, BLM, CICWCD, and Division of Water Rights is made available. The additional source of water into this basin is a top priority of the CICWCD and will carry the largest impact to the overall basin aquifer. All waters imported into the basin will reduce the withdrawal from our own aquifer and all excess water will recharge our aquifer either by seeping into the ground due to over watering plants or as water that travels down the drain to the new waste water treatment plant and is treated it can be made available for reuse.
Increasing recharge to the Basin-Fill Aquifer
Water managers within the Cedar Valley have long recognized the decline in water levels and have since been looking at ways to better recharge the basin-fill aquifer. Cedar City Engineer, Kit Wareham, has led the efforts for the past several years by directing 3,000 AC/FT of water/year from Coal Creek during the winter into the underground. The CICWCD is currently in the planning stages of implementing of a project which will include several de-sedimentation basins along Coal Creek to slow the flow, drop out the sediment and navigate the water into areas of high permeable soil to more efficiently recharge the aquifer. The CICWCD is partnering with the National Guard who has been willing to take this project on as part of their summer camp. The benefit of having the National Guard construct the basins is the limited cost associated during construction to the stakeholders and ultimately tax payers of Iron County. The CICWCD is still in the preliminary engineering and permitting stages of this project and anticipate breaking ground summer 2016.
Dispersing High-Discharge Wells
The CICWCD has recently finished the Water Master Plan for the area which includes the priorities and projects of the District within basin. The first major project that the CICWCD is working toward is the development of a well field in the North end of the valley where water levels have actually risen during the past decade. The CICWCD anticipates connecting pipelines to Cedar and Enoch to distribute water from the north end of the valley to Cedar and Enoch City residents on the south end of Cedar Valley. Cedar City has high discharge wells on the west side of Quichapa Lake which has seen an average decline of over two feet per year in water levels since 1993. The transition of pulling water from the north end of the valley will alleviate the stress that is currently on the South end and allow the basin to neutralize.
Reducing Ground Water Withdrawals
Every citizen in Iron County can alleviate the situation by conserving water. All who live in the valley and drink or use water are part of the problem and can be part of the solution. Water Conservation measures should be reviewed in every home to see where water savings can occur. Over 75% of the water used in this valley is by agricultural users which generally have a priority to water rights. In large, if the water users of the area do not come together to solve the problem at hand, the reduction of water withdrawal may come from the State Engineer through a Ground Water Management Plan similar to what is being done in the Beryl-Enterprise area.
Additional recommendations in the report include the monitoring of subsidence in our valley. In 2013, the CICWCD conducted its own survey of GPS monuments to set a benchmark to monitor subsidence in the future. They survey also showed that The CICWCD has also budgeted for the placement of new benchmarks within the highly critical zones of fissuring within the Enoch Graben and areas west of Quichapa Lake. These monuments will help us understand the true movement of the fissures and ultimately help us determine what is precisely happening in these areas.
History of the Report
In May 2009, Enoch City contacted the UGS of a fissure damaging streets and sidewalks in the Parkview subdivision in North Enoch.
In June 2009, the CICWCD Board approved a UGS proposal to conduct an investigation on subsidance in Cedar Valley and the UGS and CICWCD entered into a Memorandum of Understanding.
In 2012, the UGS presented their initial report to the CICWCD board which showed an overall decline of subsidence in the valley floor of 4-5 inches basin wide. The CICWCD did not accept the report based on survey methodologies for subsidence and asked UGS to resurvey.
During 2012-2014 the UGS contracted with a licensed surveyor, and a LiDAR and InSAR specialist to more accurately determine what the overall subsidence in the valley was.
In March 2014, the UGS reported their findings to the CICWCD Board which showed subsidence or fissuring within the Enoch Graben and along the south western margin of Cedar Valley. Aquifer levels have declined by 114′ since pumping began in the 1930’s. Overall subsidence to the valley as a whole was minimal, however, more fissures have developed and exhisting fissurs have increased in size since 1997.
The Utah Geological Survey states that ground subsidence is occurring in Cedar Valley due to the over mining the aquifer by as much and 9,000 AC/FT per year. Fissures have been pronounced north of Enoch City and west of Quichapa Lake. Some of these Fissures have existed for well over 50 years but have recently settled or increased in size due to soil compositions and limited recharge to specific areas of the basin. Subsidence will likely continue to occur if the aquifer is not brought back to equilibrium. The CICWCD is working on three large scale projects that perfectly align with the mitigating recommendations expressed by the Utah Geological Survey to prevent over drafting and restore the aquifer.
UGS Report, Special Study 150: http://geology.utah.gov/online/ss/ss-150.pdf
UGS – Utah Geological Survey
Generally speaking a family of four uses one-acre foot of water per year.
An acre foot of water is about the size of a football field covered by one foot of water.
1 AC/FT = 325,851 gallons
Land Subsidence and Earth Fissures in Cedar Valley, Iron County, Utah Read more: KCSG Television – Land Subsidence and Earth Fissures in Cedar Valley Iron County Utah
by Tyler Knudsen, Utah Geological Survey
Published on KCSG.com - 03/31/14
(SALT LAKE CITY, Utah) – A just-released report from the Utah Geological Survey (UGS) shows the ground has been sinking in some areas around Cedar City for decades. The comprehensive 116-page report presents the results of an investigation of land subsidence and earth fissures in Cedar Valley, Iron County, Utah, primarily due to groundwater pumping. “The sediments in the Cedar Valley that form the groundwater aquifer contain a significant amount of fine-grained silt and clay sediments. Those sediments become compacted when water is removed and the ground begins to sink,” said Tyler Knudsen, UGS project geologist.
Long-term groundwater pumping, or mining, has lowered the water table in the Cedar Valley aquifer by as much as 114 feet since 1939. The groundwater mining has caused the fine-grained sediments to permanently compact resulting in the permanent loss of aquifer storage capacity and subsidence over an approximately 100 square mile area of the valley floor. “Because the ground does not subside evenly, earth fissures or deep ground cracks, have formed,” said Knudsen. The subsidence has caused a total of more than eight miles of earth fissures to form. The earth fissures have been most noticeable in a partially developed subdivision in Enoch, Utah. It marks the first documented instance of subsidence and earth fissures affecting an urban area in Utah. Ground subsidence and earth fissures associated with groundwater mining in other arid southwestern states (Arizona, Nevada, and California) have caused tens of millions of dollars damage to homes, other buildings, roads, railroads, pipelines, canals, and dams. “Continued groundwater mining will likely cause the subsiding area of Cedar Valley to expand and new earth fissures to form, which may eventually impact other developed areas in Cedar Valley.”
The report suggests possible aquifer management options to bring average annual groundwater discharge and recharge into balance to stop further land subsidence and earth-fissure formation. The report also includes recommended guidelines for conducting subsidence-and earth-fissure-hazard investigations prior to new development in subsiding areas.
The report was produced with support from the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District.
Investigation of Land Subsidence and Earth Fissures in Cedar Valley, Iron County, Utah (UGS Special Study 150) is available on a CD (116 p., 1 appendix) for $19.95, which is also available as print on demand; the report also can be viewed on the UGS website at http://geology.utah.gov/online/ss/ss-150.pdf.
by Tyler Knudsen, Utah Geological Survey
Published on KCSG.com - 03/31/14
Read more: KCSG Television – Land Subsidence and Earth Fissures in Cedar Valley Iron County Utah
Cedar City water report released
by ASHLEY LANGSTON
Iron County Today – March 25, 2014
CEDAR CITY – Cedar City has completed its 2013 water report, detailing water usage in the city, the status of the city’s water system, water quality information, aquifer trends and more.
Aquifer trends are concerning, as the water level in the Quichapa area wells has dropped 57 feet since 1993, or about three feet per year. Last year, the water table dropped five feet.
Recharge for this year is not expected to be good either, as snowpack for Southwest Utah is less than half of normal, Stathis said in a presentation to the Cedar City Council earlier this month. There was only about 18 inches of snow on Cedar Mountain at Webster’s Flat, when the average is 38 inches.
“The dry winter could cause a loss of low from some of the mountain springs,” according to Stathis’ presentation. “Also, there will likely be a larger decrease in the valley aquifer levels over the next few years.”
Cedar City currently has time restrictions in place for outside watering. It may only take place between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.
In addition to the long-term problem of aquifer recharge not keeping up with usage, the lower water level means increased electrical pumping costs for the city.
With the increased pumping distance and an increase in costs per kilowatt-hour from the electric company, the cost to pump water from the city’s wells has increased significantly in the past eight years, jumping by nearly $91,000 to $540,977.79.
Though the decrease in the water table is a significant problem that city and county officials and the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District continue to try to solve, there is some positive news for Cedar City.
Water usage has decreased in the city almost every year for the past eight years, despite a population increase of nearly 4,000 people and nearly 1,000 added connections in that time.
“We’re continuing to trend downward, which is a good thing,” Stathis said. “There was an uptick last year, but it’s gone back down again.”
In 2013, the total amount of water used from the Cedar City water system (both culinary and pressurized irrigation) was 7,251 acre-feet, or an average of 222 gallons per day per person. Eight years ago the average usage per person was 265 gallons per day.
Additionally, the city is prepared for growth, as it currently owns 19,693.21 acre-feet of water rights, which is more than is projected to be needed for the next 40 years.
Water quality continued to be good in 2013, falling “well within the standards of the Utah Drinking Water Regulations,” according to the report.
Leakage in the city’s water system was low in 2013 as well, with about two percent of the city’s culinary water believed to be lost through leakage. In 2006, that number was 10.3 percent, and since then has fluctuated, with two percent in 2007 and 2013 being the least water lost.
The 2013 water report is available on the city’s website, http://www.cedarcity.org, under “Your Government” and the engineering department.
Staff writer Holly Coombs contributed to this story.
Water Conservancy District hosts fair for students
CEDAR CITY — Ask any fourth-grade student in Iron County about water and after Tuesday, they’ll probably tell you almost anything you want to know and more, which was all part of the two-day water fair hosted at the Aquatic Center.
Organized by the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, the water fair was the first of its kind in Iron County and modeled after one that Washington County has hosted for years.
“Washington County gave us a checklist, and a lot of getting ready for this event was just going down that checklist marking. It all went pretty smooth,” said Paul Monroe, director of the Iron County Water Conservancy District.
The fair kicked off Monday, but the conservancy district began laying the groundwork last week, dropping off toilets at the different schools in the county in an effort to get the kids excited for the fair and learning about water.
“We had some students at the SUU Communication Department help us promote the event, and they’re the ones that came up with the toilet idea to get the kids excited and the cute little water droplet named Augi,” Monroe said.
The day included various presentations from learning about the water cycle to cloud formations that the students rotated through — all geared toward the subject of water.
One of the presentations by Hope Briathwaite and Brian Greene, who were both with the Utah State University Water Quality Extension Office in Logan, taught the kids about bugs that are called biological indicators. These bugs help scientists know whether the water is clean and healthy.
During the presentation, students got a chance to actually hold some bugs in their hand. They also got to go exploring for their own bugs in some water brought in from a local creek.
Another class taught the students how to blow bubbles with nothing more than their fingers, soap and water, while another presentation started a book on fire.
“These are experts in their field that are presenting today, and I think it’s a really great experience for the kids to hear from them. The water fair has been a great success and it offers another tool that enhances the learning process and provides another way for the students to learn,” said Candace Schaible, who helped organize the water fair and is the horticulture, water wisdom and landscaping educator with the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District and the USU Extension Program.
Regardless of the topic, each presentation gave the students a hands-on learning opportunity, designed to not only teach them but to keep them entertained.
“I think the fair really is a wonderful experience for these kids and helps them understand water better. This also goes right along with the fourth-grade science curriculum,” said LeAnn Roberts, a fourth-grade teacher at Three Peaks Elementary School.
Follow Tracie Sullivan on Twitter, @tracie_sullivan.
What’s the flush about?
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
CEDAR CITY – Toilets, sinks and “Augi The Water Droplet” will be joining the fourth-graders of Iron County schools on Tuesday. Augi will inspire students, to attend the water fair on March 10th and 11th at the Cedar City Aquatic Center, “What’s All the Flush About?” hosted by the Iron County Water Conservancy District.
Toilets will be hauled out of the back of a truck by volunteers and set up with Augi, just inside the doors of the elementary schools at the schools. The Cedar City Home Depot is graciously supplying the toilets for display.
Wettest summer in Cedar City since ’48
Thursday, September 19, 2013Written by Tracie Sullivan, The Spectrum
CEDAR CITY — If you think this has been an especially wet summer in Iron County, you’re not imagining things.
Cedar City has experienced the wettest summer since at least 1948, as precipitation at the Cedar City Municipal Airport between June 1 and Sept. 16 measured almost 9 inches.
The majority of the rainfall came in a two-month period, according to meteorologist Mike Conger from the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.
“We figure our information in seasons, so the precipitation numbers for the summer are between June and August. This year most of that precipitation came in between July and August,” he said.
In 1984, the precipitation reached nearly 7.2 inches, making it the next wettest summer on record prior to this year. Ever since then, officials say it’s just gone downhill, putting the area in a drought for the last few years.
The highest precipitation recorded in the last five summers came in at 6 inches just last year, with a low of 1.6 inches in both 2008 and 2009. The average in that time was around three inches.
According to Paul Monroe, director of the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, the moisture measure for the area in early June was still low.
“Even with the added moisture we received, the weather station at Midway on Cedar Mountain is at 81 percent of normal,” he said. “Better from the 69 percent we were at the beginning of the summer.”
With the area having experienced drought for more than five years, Monroe said, the rainfall has saved the livelihoods of many livestock producers who were planning for a dismal year for grass and feed for their animals. But it didn’t raise levels enough to put Cedar City in the clear.
“It doesn’t mean we’re out of the drought. But it has definitely alleviated the conditions,” Monroe said.
Generally, the region depends on snowfall to bring it out of a drought. Because the process of snow melting is a slow one, that water is more likely to seep into aquifers.
But when the rainfall comes in the form of thunderstorms and cloudbursts, it often results in flooding, and the runoff is generally filled with mud and silt.
“A lot of that water doesn’t seep into the aquifer but drains into Quichapa, the lake west of town out on Highway 56,” Monroe said. “The farmers won’t use it for their crops and we can’t use it for city water, so it’s no good to us.”
But residents with lawns should have benefited with lower water bills.
“I have talked to some residents who said they have only had to water their lawns for a total of four weeks to date this summer,” Monroe said.
Huge aquifer that runs through 8 states quickly being tapped out
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Kansas State University Photo Services, An irrigation system sprays water on a cornfield.
Nearly 70 percent of the groundwater stored in parts of the United States’ High Plains Aquifer — a vast underground reservoir that stretches through eight states, from South Dakota to Texas, and supplies 30 percent of the nation’s irrigated groundwater — could be used up within 50 years unless current water use is reduced, a new study finds.
Researchers from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., conducted a four-year study of a portion of the High Plains Aquifer, called the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides the most agriculturally important irrigation in the state of Kansas, and is a key source of drinking water for the region.
If current irrigation trends continue unabated, 69 percent of the available groundwater will be drained in the next five decades, the researchers said in a study published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“I think it’s generally understood that the groundwater levels are going down and that at some point in the future groundwater pumping rates are going to have to decrease,” study lead author David Steward, a professor of civil engineering at Kansas State University, said in a statement. “However, there are lots of questions about how long the water will last, how long the aquifer will take to refill and what society can do.” [Earth Checkup: 10 Health Status Signs]
Taking water measurements
Steward and his colleagues collected data on past and present groundwater levels in the Ogallala Aquifer, and developed statistical models to project various scenarios of water depletion over the next 100 years.
Kansas State University Photo Services, Water from the High Plains Aquifer irrigates a field of corn.
Using current trends in water usage as a guide, the researchers estimate that 3 percent of the aquifer’s water was used up by 1960; 30 percent of the aquifer’s water was drained by 2010; and a whopping 69 percent of the reservoir will likely be tapped by 2060. It would take an average of 500 to 1,300 years to completely refill the High Plains Aquifer, Steward added.
But, if reducing water use becomes an immediate priority, it may be possible to make use of the aquifer’s resources and increase net agricultural production through the year 2110, the researchers said.
“The main idea is that if we’re able to save water today, it will result in a substantial increase in the number of years that we will have irrigated agriculture in Kansas,” Steward said.
A lot of variables
Yet, making projections about water security is challenging, because there are a number of factors to consider, and even though the High Plains Aquifer touches eight different states, the effects can be highly localized, said Bridget Scanlon, a senior research scientist and leader of the Sustainable Water Resources Program at the University of Texas at Austin, who was not involved with the new study.
“We know the aquifer is being depleted, but trying to project long-term is very difficult, because there are climate issues and social aspects that have to be included,” Scanlon told LiveScience. “Projections are so difficult because I think we’re clueless about a lot of things, like extreme weather events.”
Scanlon pointed out that the new study does not consider the impact of extreme weather, such as droughts or floods. In 2011, Texas experienced a devastating drought that cost the state some $8 billion in economic losses, according to a report by Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. NASA satellites that studied the parched land determined that the drought depleted the region’s aquifers to low levels that had rarely been seen since this type of mapping began more than 60 years ago. [Dried Up: Photos Reveal Devastating Texas Drought]
Finding a solution to the groundwater depletion problem is also tricky without unfairly targeting the farmers, Scanlon said.
“Farmers are trying to make a living, and they’re responding to economics,” she explained. “Asking them to drastically reduce water might be like asking me to retire now because there are so many unemployed people.”
Too many unknowns?
Steward and his colleagues anticipate future technologies will help farmers irrigate their land more efficiently. “Water use efficiencies have increased by about 2 percent a year in Kansas, which means that every year we’re growing about 2 percent more crop for each unit of water,” Steward said. “That’s happening because of increased irrigation technology, crop genetics and management strategies.”
But in some areas of the country’s plains, the properties of the groundwater and soil largely dictate the irrigation techniques, Scanlon said. In parts of Texas and Kansas, the groundwater is brinier, which means if some farmers employ more efficient irrigation techniques, they will also be pumping up salty deposits that are not adequately washed away by rainfall.
“This is a very nice study, but we really need to address droughts and socioeconomic issues, and other approaches to figure out the problem, beyond the technical,” Scanlon said. “If we don’t know what we’re doing, are we just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?”
Farmers Market offers fresh alternative
Wednesday, July 31, 2013Written by Josh Huntsman, The Spectrum
CEDAR CITY — Now in its third year of operation, the Downtown Farmers Market, sponsored by local businesses and the Utah State University Extension office, offers a unique experience when it comes to buying local produce.
Candace Schaible, water-wise landscape/horticultural educator for the Utah State University Iron County Extension Office and the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, is in charge of the market. She said this year will feature approximately 30 individual vendors.
“It’s really taken off,” Schaible said. “We have more vendors than we’ve ever had.”
The market takes place every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the parking lot on the corner of Hoover Street and 100 West.
While most of the vendor space will feature locally grown produce, there will also be informational booths from organizations such as 4-H, as well as space for entertainment and dining.
Schaible said the food and entertainment will bring a more festive atmosphere to the market.
“We’ll have music every week. We got some tables set up so people can have dinner,” Schaible said. “We’ve had music and food in the past, but it hasn’t been consistent. This year it’s consistent.”
Studies indicate farmers markets also bring benefits to the community. According to a 2005 study by the United States Department of Agriculture, farmers who participate in farmers markets keep $8 to $9 for every $10 spent on produce as opposed to $1.50 through wholesalers — and of that $10 spent, $7.80 is respent in the community.
Schaible said the market also accepts Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, sometimes called food stamps, to purchase vegetation.
“It provides a place for folks who participate in that program to buy local, fresh produce,” Schaible said. “Not many of the farmers are set up for EBT so other than the market, I don’t think they have very many options.”
Cedar City resident Rob Knerr said he enjoys buying produce from the farmers market because he likes to know where his food comes from.
“It’s a chance to chat with the farmers who grew the carrots you are buying,” Knerr said. “There is a level of disconnect we have with food these days because we don’t really think about where it comes from but at the (farmers market) you can see the hand that grew the food.”
CICWCD Conservation Advisory Board formed
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
CEDAR CITY – The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District has officially founded the Water Conservation Advisory Board and approved $7,000 to begin its ultimate mission of seeing citizens and public institutions conserve water every day in the Cedar Valley, where the aquifer is over-mined by about 4,000 acre feet each year.
Citizen activist Doug Hall, who founded the Iron County Association of Taxpayers and who regularly attends the CICWCD monthly board meetings, was appointed chair of the Water Conservation Advisory Board.
CICWCD General Manager Paul Monroe and other district staff, including Candace Schaible, horticulture and water-wise educator for the CICWCD and Iron County Utah State University Extension Office, met with Hall in order to develop a list of the top 12 prioritized suggestions from the advisory board on how to begin an effective conservation effort in the district.
Hall gave a presentation to the CICWCD Board of Directors at its June 20 meeting during which he suggested the district begin working with large, non-agricultural outdoor water users such as Cedar and Enoch Cities, Southern Utah University, and Iron County schools and churches to determine what water conservation activities are in place and what improvements can be made.
Monroe said they will begin with some trial partnerships with the school district at Three Peaks Elementary School in Enoch and an area such as East Canyon Park in Cedar City, and install water-smart sprinklers and modules in large grassy areas to demonstrate the amount of water and money saved and to serve as an example to the public.
“We want to work with the city and the school district to see how we can help them conserve water,” Monroe said. “And then, in turn show the average citizens how they can save money on their yards while conserving precious water.”
Other suggestions offered by Hall were to construct an outdoor audit form to help citizens identify how much water they are using and how to improve their systems and to work with the Iron County Home Builders Association to assist in formulating a strong water conservation policy for new home construction.
The board approved spending $7,000 for conservation projects in the district.
Hall will be joined on the advisory board by at least 11 other citizens who hale from different corners of the community and have experience or concern for conservation. So far Schaible, Blake DeMille of Rocky Ridge Landscape Rock, Garth Green of Southwest plumbing, Chris Gale of Southern Utah University, Hunter Sheehan, associated with Iron County School District, and Ryan Marshall with the Cedar City Corporation have been invited and agreed to join the advisory board.
Water district’s claim on new water a realistic possibility
Wednesday, July 3, 2013CICWCD staff and board members meet with Utah Division of Water Rights staff to camera wells in Wah Wah and Pine Valleys
By Kristen Daniel (Iron County Today)
CEDAR CITY – The Utah State Engineer took a trip with members of the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District Board to the Wah Wah and Pine Valleys where the engineer made encouraging remarks that the district may receive approval for its filing on 27,000 acre feet of water.
On June 17 and 18, Utah Division of Water Rights staff including State Engineer Kent Jones joined members of the CICWCD Board and District staff engineers and consultants, including General Manager Paul Monroe and Cedar City Councilmember Paul Cozzens, to visit test wells in each valley.
The wells have been drilled as part of the first 18 months of an ongoing three-year joint study in the valleys conducted by the United States Geological Survey on behalf of the CICWCD in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management and the Division of Water Rights.
Monroe said the state engineer told him and the board that if the study proves the indications of previous tests, the full 27,000 acre feet of the filing will be approved. The district had expected Jones to approve only a portion of the filing, as is usually the case with water rights applications, so Monroe said this was very exciting news.
“This is a huge and exciting possibility for the whole area,” Monroe said. “The future of Iron County and the way it will look in 20-50 years will be a direct result from these waters.”
The CICWCD filed on the 27,000 acre feet of water three years ago under the directions of then General Manager Scott Wilson.
In order to have the application ultimately approved, the district will have to conduct more extensive tests including test pumps on wells in each valley, which will increase the total cost of the study to $175,000. The BLM and Division of Water Rights will contribute funds to the project, which has 18 months remaining.
Monroe added that all indications are the quality of the water is also very high, similar the Cedar Valley aquifer water or perhaps better.
Delivering the water to Iron County from the Wah Wah and Pine Valleys was estimated in 2010 at $149.7 million for 27,000 acre feet of water or $5,549 per acre foot. The lake Powell Pipeline would have cost $418.2 million for 13,249 acre feet or $31,500 per acre foot.
Those Lake Powell numbers do not include the cost to build a retaining pond and treat the Lake Powell water, which requires extensive treatment before it can be used safely by any municipality.
“This is our last opportunity to put a straw in another valley and access another area’s water resource,” Monroe said. “So we feel it is definitely worth the cost to prove this filing and have access to the water when we need it.”
Monroe said it may be decades before Iron County has need to build the pipeline and deliver the water, assuming the filing is approved, but they would begin environmental impact studies, which can take five or more years and take other necessary and proactive steps in the meantime.
Utah’s Water Future An Invitation for Public Comment
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District is participating in Governor Gary Herbert’s town hall meetings to address the use of Utah’s Water in the future. We also invite you to attend and be involved with the planning of this most precious natural resource.
Utah is the second driest state in the nation. It is also among the fastest growing. That combination presents obvious challenges for how we manage our water.
We need to act wisely now to ensure our children and grandchildren enjoy a vibrant economy and the beauty of Utah’s great outdoors.
The remedies of the past won’t necessarily be the solutions of the future. The Governor is seeking innovative solutions to our water needs that don’t break the bank or dry up our streams—ideas that are a win/win for all Utahns. To assist him in this task, he has brought together a group of water experts who will gather public input about the use, development and conservation of water in our state.
To succeed, this must be a collaborative process—where everyone has a voice and where all ideas are welcome. You are invited to participate in this important effort. Do you have comments or suggestions about:
- Using our water most efficiently?
- Addressing competition for water resources?
- Meeting the water needs of our growing population while protecting the environment, and the beauty and outdoor lifestyle we enjoy?
- Funding the construction of new and maintenance of existing water infrastructure?
- The availability and use of water for agriculture?
- Addressing the complicated issues around water law and its application?
- Other issues relating to Utah’s long-range water future?
If so, the Governor’s team wants to listen.
Come to an open meeting near you.
All meetings will be held in the evening from 7 to 9 p.m.
July 1 Utah Climate and Water Report
Monday, July 1, 2013
Attached is the July 1 Utah Climate and Water report. June was not a good water month, exceptionally dry, hot and high water use. Virtually no precipitation, stream flows below 25%, soil moisture near the bottom of historical observed, reservoir levels dropping fast and water restrictions being implemented across the state. There is no real optimism at this point. Please forward this information to those who might benefit.
Randall P. Julander – Hydrologist
Snow Survey Supervisor
CICWCD sets fund for water situation
Thursday, June 20, 2013
By Cathy Wentz
CEDAR CITY — The board of the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District on Thursday approved a resolution to set aside $7,000 from several areas of the district’s budget to pay for water conservation projects.
Doug Hall, chairman of the newly formed water conservation advisory board, provided a list of 12 suggestions for conservation efforts. He said he has been working on recruiting people to represent water conservation and the “major players” in terms of water use within the water district’s boundaries.
Hall said he has been meeting with district staff as well as Candace Schaible, horticulture and water-wise educator for the CICWCD and Iron County Utah State University Extension Office, to prioritize the 12 suggestions based on what could be done and costs associated with those actions.
“And obviously, like anything else, you attempt to go for the lowest hanging fruit to start with,” Hall said.
One of Hall’s first suggestions is to work with the large, non-agricultural outdoor water users within the district, such as Cedar City and Enoch, Iron County School District, Southern Utah University and churches to examine water conservation activities already in place and ways to improve them. …Continue Reading.
Water Conservation Simplified by Cathy Wentz
Sunday, June 9, 2013CEDAR CITY — As Iron County experiences the heat of summer, Paul Monroe, general manager for the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, is expressing concern about a lower amount of spring run-off from the mountain snows that recharges the Cedar Valley aquifer.
Monroe said the water count at Midway on Cedar Mountain revealed this year’s snowpack is 69 percent of average.
In the spirit of using the water available in the aquifer as efficiently as possible, Candace Schaible, horticulture and water wise educator for CICWCD and Utah State University Iron County Extension Office, is conducting water checks for outdoor watering systems at homes throughout the county.
Schaible said the water check program is in its fourth year of operation, and she estimates she conducts an average of 75 checks each year. …Continue Reading