Officials dedicated the $12 million Smith and Morehouse Dam Tuesday, saying it is another link to providing improved irrigation, water storage and flood control to a five-county area.
"We have a great need for water in this state; it is the lifeblood of our state, and we need to continue to develop the projects like this dam and others," Lt. Gov. Val Oveson said.The dam, the latest addition to the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District system, is 13 miles northeast of Oakley on the Smith and Morehouse Creek that feeds into the Weber River. The water district serves parts of Weber, Morgan, Davis, Summit and Box Elder counties.
The earthen dam was built over a four-year period and replaces a smaller dam built in 1925. The half-mile dam has created a 8,350 acre-foot reservoir. The original reservoir held 1,040 acre-feet of water. Ten percent of the water flow has been guaranteed to Summit County farmers and residents while the remaining 80 percent will go to Wasatch Front counties.
The biggest beneficiary of the project may be Park City, which has had summer water shortages, said Wayne B. Gibson, water conservancy board chairman.
"We are committed to help develop the Park City culinary water system. Although we are not physically connected yet, we are under contract to bring them water," Gibson said.
The dam project also included new camping sites and a boat ramp. The reservoir and creek have also been stocked with trout. The reservoir will be open to wakeless boating, said Ranger David Swank of the Forest Service.
"This is an example of a facility and an opportunity for the public to use and enjoy the national forest through recreation while the basic purpose of the dam and reservoir to provide downstream water for irrigation is also met," said J. Stan Tixer, Forest Service regional director.
Larry Anderson, director of the State Division of Water Resources, said the project has taken 10 years to come to fruition. The system that the dam joins is result of foresight that has prevented Utah from suffering from drought while other states do.
Ronald R. Crittenden, from Rep. Howard Nielson's office, said the dam shows what can be accomplished without federal assistance. Sixty percent of the project was funded through a revolving loan fund from the state Division of Water Resources. The water conservancy district paid for the remaining 40 percent. The district will repay the loan through a district mill levy.