Construction is expected to begin by the end of March on a project that will rebuild dikes at Willard Bay and allow the reservoir's level to rise about 5 feet.

Harper Contracting of Kearns submitted the low bid of $773,193 for the first phase of the two-year project that will restore the original level of 13 miles of dikes. The dikes have settled up to eight feet in some places since the reservoir was completed in 1963, Ivan Flint, Weber Basin Water Conservancy District Manager said."We want to restore it back to its original height, but it will have to take two years. We can't load the dike all at one time," Flint said.

The contract is expected to be let by the district's board to Harper Contracting in two weeks. Work beginning soon thereafter. Some 11 contractors submitted bids for the project.

The dikes, officially called the Arthur V. Watkins Dam, will be restored with funds built into a 60-year financing contract that Weber Basin Water Conservancy District has with the Bureau of Reclamation, which constructed the reservoir. About $1.4 million was set aside to fund the restoration project, Flint said.

The diking project will allow Willard Bay to return to its original capacity of 215,000 acre-feet. The current capacity is about 165,000 acre-feet. The improvements will allow the district to sell more water to irrigation users.

Flint said recreation activities at the bay will not be affected during construction. The project should improve the recreational quality of the bay, because of a higher water level.

The dikes will be restored with a fine gravel core and protected from water movement by a covering of larger rocks. Some of the gravel will come from a nearby gravel pit owned by the district and others approved by the district.

It is expected that this restoration will stabilize the dikes for many decades to come.

"There will be very little settling from this point on. While the original settlement was fast, it will be slow now," Flint said.

Weber Basin Water Conservancy District stores water in seven Northern Utah reservoirs. The district provides irrigation and culinary water to Davis, Weber, Summit and Morgan counties.