Releases from Deer Creek Dam were cut Monday shortly after an unprecedented one-time agreement was struck between water users and representatives of fishing and wildlife groups.
As a result of the agreement, flows on the Provo River were cut from 100 cubic feet per second to 85 cfs; and the river was closed to fishing, probably for the rest of the winter.Putting the agreement into effect required the signatures of 12 members of a negotiating coalition that has spent the past two weeks resolving differences between water developers, who own storage and flow rights on the Provo River system and are anxious to store water for culinary and irrigation uses next summer, and sportsmen, who are looking after the Provo River's blue-ribbon trout fishery.
A provision of the National Environmental Policy Act enforced on the Central Utah Project requires Provo River flows to be maintained at 100 cfs to protect the fishery. Water officials have said there isn't enough water stored in Deer Creek to maintain that flow through the winter.
Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, said the agreement will help minimize the possibility of lawsuits from environmental groups and will help Utah's congressional delegation in January when a bill is introduced to extend the spending limit for the CUP.