In a move to protect Provo's water interests, city officials filed an official protest Monday with the state engineer saying the Central Utah Water Conservancy District doesn't have the right to transfer water rights from Utah Lake to Deer Creek Reservoir.
Mayor Joe Jenkins said, "We will fight to the end to protect Provo City's water interests, including winter water rights. We believe they don't have the water to move."The Central Utah Water Conservancy District has proposed transferring rights to 20,000 acre-feet of water it has in Utah Lake to 20,000 acre-feet of water in Deer Creek Reservoir.
But Jenkins said water coming down the Provo River is already allocated and there aren't any available water rights for the district to claim.
The district's Utah Lake water is not Provo River water, he said. It comes from springs and other sources in the area.
"It appears the Central Utah Water Conservancy District is putting more water up there that doesn't exist," Jenkins said. "They want to put it up there for Salt Lake County to use."
To compensate for the reduction at Utah Lake, the district proposes to allow 20,000 acre-feet of water from Strawberry Reservoir to flow down the Spanish Fork River and into the lake.
According to the Morse decree, a 1920 court ruling in favor of Provo, the city has preferential rights over the river, including municipal and industrial and irrigation rights, Jenkins said.
"We have more rights than we use now because we have adequate drinking water from the South Fork area and wells," he said. "But it's our water and we think we have a right to use it."
The city is looking at using the Central Utah Valley Water Treatment Plant to make river water available for drinking.
Provo officials are also concerned over the river flow, which flows at 100 cubic feet per second during the winter, and they think they have the right to keep it at a comparable level.
"If we take water out of the reservoir to maintain the flow, there is not enough water stored for next summer uses, so we have a dilemma," Jenkins said.
He said Provo City has four reasons to keep the water flowing in the river: first, to maintain the quality of life, since the river flows past parks and many homes; second, to make sure that there is adequate water for the fish; third, to ensure enough water for use in the city's cooling towers, used for producing electricity; and fourth, to maintain the city's aquifer, since the river is a primary source of recharged water used by wells.
"Salt Lake County has some rights, too. We understand that and don't contest that right, but during the summer they don't do much to conserve water. The reason why is to keep their base amount as high as they can so when they grow they can use the base at Deer Creek. I think that is wrong."