The long-delayed Gooseberry-Narrows Project could begin delivering 5,400 acre-feet of irrigation water annually to Sanpete County within two or three summers.

That's the prediction of David L. Peterson, Mt. Pleasant, chairman of the Sanpete Water Conservancy Board.Public input meetings in Fairview and Price this month have helped move the process along, Peterson said. The meetings were required to complete the environmental impact statement, the last major hurdle that has to be crossed before the project can go into construction.

The project's main element is a dam that would impound 17,000 acre-feet of Gooseberry Creek water in a Flat Canyon reservoir high on Manti Mountain, east of Fairview.

The water would then run through an existing 3,200-foot tunnel down Fairview Canyon into the Sanpete Valley. Annual production is estimated at 5,400 acre-feet of irrigation water.

The Gooseberry-Narrows Project had its beginning in 1924 when Sanpete water users filed on Gooseberry Creek water in the Price River drainage.

The Gooseberry-Narrows Project would have several supplementary benefits for Sanpete County, irrigation company officials say. For one thing, the additional irrigation water would reduce pressure on culinary systems.

It also has both recreational and hydroelectric potential.

The estimated cost of the project is $7.4 million. The money, Peterson said, would be obtained by the Sanpete Water Conservancy District in the form of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation loan.

The Gooseberry-Narrows Project water would be purchased by Sanpete County irrigation companies.