SALT LAKE CITY — The mission for the Utah Division of Water Resources is to conserve, develop and protect Utah’s water resources.
An article in the Salt Lake Tribune this week noted that one reservoir, Deer Creek between Heber City and Provo, supplies water to almost half of Utah’s population. Even more surprising is that with some upgrades it could actually continue to do so for the next 40 to 50 years.
On KVNU’s For the People program on Thursday, Joel Williams, assistant director, explained how that can happen.
“Utah County, Salt Lake County, Summit County. They get a portion of their water comes through that reservoir and so, amazingly yeah, they are serving one and a half million people some of their water. A project like that, completed in 1941, is reaching 80 years in age, and there’s parts of it that have hit their designed life,” Williams explained.
He said one of the things that need replacing is the actual intake structure that allows the water to be taken out of the dam and put into systems for use. Normally, Williams said, they might lower the reservoir but with so many people depending on the water, that is not possible.
“So they took a really innovative approach and said…what if we had divers go in and do all of the work underwater. We’re talking removing old parts, installing new parts, pouring new concrete, and doing all of this underwater. So it’s a really innovative approach, we were amazed when they came and said this is what we’d think we’d like to do. And they approached the board of water resources saying we think this project is going to cost $60 million dollars, is there a way the board of water resources could help fund part of that.”
He said the water board has a revolving fund that it can use that has funded over 15-hundred water projects across the state over the last 75 years.
Williams said the three- year project could extend the life of the reservoir for another 80 years perhaps, and aid in water conservation. The model could also be used for other heavy-use reservoirs in the state.