A proposed water supertunnel system connecting the Wasatch Front with its eastern slopes would boost the area's economy while providing needed water to the region's farmers and industry, a geologist says.
Leon Hansen, who has fought against the Jordanelle Dam under construction near here for many years because he believes the site to be unsafe, recently accepted an invitation by the Wasatch County Commission to present his views on the tunnel as an alternative to the dam.Hansen says the Jordanelle Dam is being built on an active earthquake fault zone.
Under his proposal, two parallel tunnels, to provide escape and ventilation, would be built in a nearly straight line from Draper to Park City. He guaranteed that additional water sources would be developed for Midway, rather than reducing its water supply.
He said the system would open up a "virtually unlimited" ground-water supply for the Wasatch Front without expensive pumping; solve irrigation water problems; supply electrical power, make it economically advantageous to reopen Park City mines, and provide strategic storage facilities - along with a transit system connecting recreational areas - without any negative effect on the environment.
Hansen called his proposal the "ultimate drain tunnel," explaining it would transport water by gravity, eliminating the need for expensive, deep-water pumps like those that will be required to deliver Jordanelle Dam water to Wasatch Front users.
He added that the water transported through the tunnel would feed into the proposed man-made freshwater Wasatch Lake, which he called a "beautiful concept."
Enough power could be generated to supply all the surface needs for the ski and mining industries, Hansen said.
The tunnel would also remove the biggest obstacle to economical mining in the Park City area by draining water from the tunnels without the expense of pumping, he said.
In addition, the increase in value of ores since Park City mines closed would make it worth reopening the mines.
Hansen also said that the Jordanelle Dam and Reservoir site rests on a billion-dollar ore source with reserves equal to all that has been mined in the 115-year history of the area.
Instead of going ahead with the Jordanelle project, he recommended building dams at higher elevations, particularly to store water for users upstream from the Jordanelle site. He said water was rushing past farmers who didn't have enough to irrigate their fields, while the Wasatch Front was battling flooding.