The Quail Creek dike collapse caused $12 million in damage, and Gov. Norm Bangerter wants the Legislature to pick up $1.5 million of the tab immediately.
The governor, in a news conference Monday, also backed away from an earlier statement that the Quail Creek project would be rebuilt, saying it is still his preference, but it may be "not feasible."Bangerter said he would send a request to the White House on Monday asking for a federal declaration calling Washington County a disaster area. If approved by the president, grants would be available to pay for three-quarters of the damage to roads, streets, culverts, bridges and other public structures.
State and local governments would have to fund the remaining cost, and that's where the $1.5 million legislative appropriation enters the picture.
The governor wants lawmakers to appropriate the money from the state's Disaster Relief Board as part of the matching funds.
Bangerter stressed the importance of the water project for the thirsty and growing Washington County area, saying it could support twice the current population of 40,000.
"The nice thing about the Quail Creek concept is it's not on the (Virgin) river. That's a very dirty river," he said.
The governor also announced appointment of four specialists to the Quail Creek Dike Technical Review Board. The board will start its probe in St. George on Wednesday behind closed doors.
Bangerter expects seven to 10 workings days will pass before the federal government decides whether to provide the aid.
The governor told reporters a joint federal-state assessment team has estimated damages as:
- Private residences: $1,039,500.
- Businesses, $589,500:
- State and local governments, including loss of dike itself: $5,790,700.
- Federal highways: $2,440,000.
- Agriculture: $2,100,000.
- Total cost: $11,959,700.
"The Quail Creek Reservoir is not technically a state project. It is owned and operated by the Washington County Water Conservancy District," Bangerter said.
The state assisted in financing and reviewing the feasibility of the project but did not participate in design or production.
Asked who should have followed up on warnings in a 1983 report by Utah State geologist Bruce Kaliser that the site had serious problems, Bangerter said he would not try to second guess a review board he has established. Examining such problems, he said, was the province of engineers.> "Certainly someone miscalculated" concerning soil conditions, he contends.
Bangerter defended the decision to keep the public from the meetings but said, "I think everything they (board members) do will be disclosed to the public - should be."
The board members are: Robert L. James, geotechnical consultant from Lancaster, Texas; Richard B. Catanach, private consultant from Santa Fe, N.M.; Larry Von Toun, Bureau of Reclamation Research Center engineer in Denver; and Bruce Barrett, an expert with the bureau's project office in Provo.