A suit alleging murky water from Upper Stillwater Dam has destroyed the fishery on Rock Creek has been referred by a Ute tribal judge to federal court.
Janet Cuch, representing four members of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation who filed the suit in tribal court against the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, said Judge Larry Kee Yazzie decided the suit should be joined with a similar suit filed in federal court by the tribe's business council.The federal suit alleges the Bureau of Reclamation, which built Upper Stillwater Dam on Rock Creek, polluted the creek and damaged the fishery when fine, red silt from an 800,000-cubic-yard pile of sand left in the reservoir basin was stirred into the water and carried into the creek.
The suit filed in tribal court May 26 makes no mention of the Bureau of Reclamation but rather accuses the conservancy district of being responsible for allowing polluted water to pass through the dam into Rock Creek.
Don Christiansen, conservancy district general manager, said his agency will ultimately control the operations and maintenance at the dam, but not yet. The Bureau of Reclamation still has complete control of the facility, he said.
The federal suit blames the Bureau of Reclamation for any damages to Rock Creek, but does not mention the conservancy district.