The Bear River Task Force has voted to endorse three proposed dam sites on the Bear River for funding consideration by the Legislature's Natural Resources Interim Committee.
The sites are Honeyville, Box Elder County, and Avon and the Barrens in Cache County. Originally, the task force was looking at only two sites for the initial project but added the Avon site during Monday's meeting.The interim committee will consider the endorsement on Wednesday and if approved, legislation will be drafted and presented to the committee in December.
Much of Monday's discussion focused on a conceptual proposal by Sen. Fred Finlinson, R-Salt Lake, outlining the proposed allocation of state developed storage water on the Bear River. Some concern was raised over the proposal's limitation on sale of allocation outside the boundaries of the participating water conservancy districts. State law allows such sales, but the Finlinson proposal would exempt Bear River allocations from that provision.
Also of concern was the status of existing water rights, especially those relating to ground water. Finlinson said his proposal does not include ground water and would leave future decisions on those rights to the state water engineer. Also of concern was the formation of a water conservancy district in Cache County to oversee that area's allocation of Bear River water.
Finlinson said his proposal is intended to deal with the allocation of water stored in dams constructed with state money. That water would be allocated between a consortium of Cache County water companies, the Bear River Water Conservancy District, the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District and the Salt Lake County Water Conservancy District. A small allocation would also be assigned to water users on the upper Bear River.
A brief description of the approved projects follows.
- Honeyville: A 117,000 acre-foot reservoir at this site would cost an estimated $52 million. A power plant that would yield 23 million kwh per year could also be incorporated into the dam design. The cost of building this hydroplant has not been included in the estimate.
- Barrens: A range of storage capacity is being investigated and final reservoir size will depend on transmission capacity to bring water to this off-stream storage facility. More studies are pending on using existing canals or possibly a pump station to bring water to the reservoir. The cost of the additional study has not been included in the preliminary cost estimates.
A 35,000-acre-foot reservoir is estimated to cost $27 million; a 100,000- acre-foot reservoir, $79 million.
- Avon: Would yield about 12,000 acre-feet of water. A design and cost estimate for this site is pending.
The proposal also gives municipal and industrial water uses top consideration.
Rep. Evan Olsen, R-Cache, the task force co-chairman, moved to not accept the sites until public hearings had been held and various reports completed. He withdrew the motion after it became apparent time was not sufficient to debate the motion.