An Independent Expert Panel reviewed proposals to develop water within the Cretaceous Sedimentary rocks in Cedar Canyon along the eastern boarder of Cedar Valley. The proposal involves extracting water from the saturated sedimentary rocks that are dipping eastward, suggesting water is moving away from Cedar Valley, and capturing this lost water and diverting it into Coal Creek to increase the flows into the Cedar Valley Basin.

Among the comments from the Expert Panel there are also two Scientific reports conducted by the Utah Geological Survey and United States Geological Survey that provide further insight to the hydrological system in Cedar Valley:

It is likely that the water in the Straight Cliffs formation does not contribute subsurface to the valley aquifer as mentioned in the proposal. Water predominately is dispersing as surface flow into springs, Coal Creek and transpiration. – Philip Gardner

This project could be an interesting study and could produce water but there is a lot of research and capital expenditures that would be required to identify the reliability and feasibility of the source. – Dan Aubrey & Russell Barrus

The proposal suggests that there is 10,000-15,000 acre-feet of recharge infiltrating the cretaceous rocks annually. If that is the case then where is the water currently going? And if this project dewaters a strata then it will likely dry up springs and reduce the flow to other downstream users. – Philip Gardner

Water right issues would include: first, acquiring the senior water rights in Coal Creek and transferring them upstream and secondly the potential of impairing other water rights. Cedar City among others have springs that are relatively close to the proposed areas that could potentially become impacted. – Kerry Carpenter & Dan Aubrey.

Based on the makeup of this formation it will likely result in lower production wells then those in the Cedar Valley alluvium. The proposal also referenced equal potential volumes to a Brian Head well. However, it is difficult to draw the same conclusion to the Brian Head well which is in a completely different formation. – Dan Aubrey

“… Pre-Tertiary-age consolidated rocks on the east side of the study area… probably do not contribute substantial amounts of water to the basin fill as any water movement through these formations probably is away from Cedar Valley along east-dipping bedding planes. These formations, however, probably provide much of the base flow to Coal Creek either as spring discharge or as subsurface inflow.” 1

The panel discussed the Hurricane Fault acting as barrier of subsurface flows into the alluvium. They cited studies that proved both, and that further studies would need to be conducted to see how the Hurricane Fault interacts with water.

“Bjorklund… reported that similar faults in Parowan Valley did not affect water-level declines in observation wells on opposite sides of a fault during an aquifer test. No water-level, chemical or aquifer-test data that would indicate restricted groundwater flow by the eastern basin-bounding faults were collected during this study.” 2

Similar projects have been drilled in the past up Cedar Canyon:

“Cedar City drilled several wells in the Navajo Sandstone in Coal Creek Canyon, without successful water production due to caving and other mechanical problems (Utah Division of Water Rights, unpublished report).”3

“Blair Maxfield directed the City to drill wells into the Navajo Sandstone the City spent $250,000 in the ’80’s on two wells. One well became completely de-watered and the other pumped sand at only 50 gpm and never cleaned up.” – Joe Melling past Cedar City Manager; 2017

  1. USGS Hydrology and Simulation of Ground-Water Flow in Cedar Valley​
  2. USGS Hydrology and Simulation of Ground-Water Flow in Cedar Valley​
  3. The Geology of Cedar Valley, Iron County, Utah, and its relation to ground-water conditions