One dam falls, another rises

  • Boondoggle: Zach Frankel says a new CUP plan makes no sense

    Fred Hayes photo
  SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - A dam proposed for the Diamond Fork River near Provo, Utah, all but died this October. The Central Utah Water Conservancy District backed off in the face of financial concerns and rising public opposition, pulling the dam from the "preferred alternative" in an environmental impact statement.


One of the last pieces of the 40-year-old Central Utah Project (CUP), the $50 million dam would have stored water for alfalfa farmers in Juab County (HCN, 7/15/91). In place of the dam, the conservancy district plans to spend $47 million to pipe the water from an existing reservoir directly to the farmers.


State and federal officials were uncomfortable with the dam, says Claude Hicken, a water conservancy district board member. "Mainly, we decided we can accomplish the delivery of water without the dam."


Zach Frankel of the Utah Rivers Council says the project is still a boondoggle because Salt Lake County, which pays 67 percent of the local cost of the pipeline, gets none of the benefits.


It's not that Salt Lake County couldn't use the water. "Our water needs are projected to double over 25 to 30 years," says David Ovard with the county water conservancy district.


To provide water to Salt Lake's swelling suburbs, the state is planning to dam the Bear River to increase water supply. Some fear a dam would routinely de-water habitat in the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, which hosts more than 200 bird species; the refuge is the subject of Terry Tempest Williams' book Refuge.


Zach Frankel has a solution: Instead of piping CUP water to farmers, send it to Salt Lake County. That way, he says, a Bear River dam won't be necessary. As for the farmers, there is plenty of water they can pump out of the ground, he says.


It's not that easy, according to the Central Utah Water Conservancy District's Lee Wimmer. The groundwater is already spoken for, and sending CUP water to Salt Lake County would cause legal and "moral" problems because the project was meant primarily for agricultural purposes.


*Jeff Schmerker


High Country News Classifieds
  • FIGHTING FOR WILDLIFE
    Position Type: Community organizer; full-time, exempt Location: Bozeman, MT. Compensation: $50,000 Benefits: Medical stipend, vacation time, flexibility. Application Deadline: June 15th. Starting Date: July 1...
  • ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION PLAN COORDINATOR
    The Coeur d'Alene Tribe is hiring an Environmental Programs Manager in the Natural Resources Department. This position manages work in wetlands, brownfields, climate change, energy...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR - YELLOWSTONE TO YUKON CONSERVATION INITIATIVE
    About the Organization The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) is a joint Canada-U.S. not-for-profit organization with a mission to connect and protect wildlife habitat...
  • COMMUNICATIONS & DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Position Type: Full time, exempt Location: Bozeman, MT Compensation: $42,000 - $47,000 Benefits: Major Medical Insurance, up to 5% match on a 401k, PTO, flexible...
  • PARTNERSHIP & COLLABORATION DIRECTOR
    WEST REGION WILDFIRE COUNCIL- RIDGWAY, CO The partnership & collaboration director will provide leadership and/or assistance with all initiatives that create and enhance connections between...
  • 2 FIELD PROJECT SPECIALISTS (POSITION FORMERLY TITLED TRAIL CREW TECHNICAL ADVISOR)
    Are you passionate about environmental conservation and connecting people to the outdoors? The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) is looking for someone with outdoor leadership...
  • WATER STEWARD
    The Blackfoot Challenge is seeking a full-time Water Steward to coordinate and deliver a variety of partnerships and projects aimed at conserving and enhancing water...
  • SMALL FARM AT BASE OF MOUNT SHASTA, CALIF.
    Fruit/berry/veggie/flower farm in the mountain town of Mount Shasta. Small home, 2 barns (one with apartment), and more. Famously pure air and water.
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE ASSISTANT - (PART-TIME)
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a part-time Customer Service Assistant, based at...
  • POLICY & PLANNING SPECIALIST
    Position Type: Full time, exempt Location: Bozeman, MT highly preferred, remote negotiable Compensation: $50,000-54,000 Benefits: Major Medical Insurance, up to 5% match on a 401k,...
  • CONSERVATION PROGRAM MANAGER
    Illinois Valley SWCD is offering an incredible career opportunity in beautiful SW Oregon. .8+ FTE, plus benefits. Visit our website for full details.
  • DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
    Formed in 1980, Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action brings people together to build grassroots power through community organizing and leadership development. The Alliance works...
  • LITIGATION ASSISTANT, NORTHERN ROCKIES OFFICE - FULL-TIME BOZEMAN | REMOTE OPTION
    Visit our website to apply: earthjustice.org/about/jobs
  • BUFFALO NATIONS GRASSLANDS ALLIANCE SEEKING AN ASSESSMENT CONSULTANT
    ASSESSMENT OF THE SCOPE OF CONSERVATION PLANNING AND ACTIVITIES IN NATIVE NATIONS IN THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS Buffalo Nations Grasslands Alliance Buffalo Nations Grasslands Alliance...
  • CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
    Rural Community Assistance Corporation seeks experienced CFO.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks, the official philanthropic non-profit partner with the National Park Service Southeast Utah Group, is seeking an Executive Director....
  • GRAND CANYON MANAGER
    Application deadline: May 9, 2022 Anticipated start date: June 15, 2022 About the position Are you passionate about building authentic relationships, supporting tribally led initiatives,...
  • LAND CONSERVATION PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Eastern Sierra Land Trust (ESLT) is seeking a Land Conservation Program Director to join our nationally accredited land trust. This is a full-time position based...
  • OUTREACH AND COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
    Reports to: Communications and Outreach Director Location: Ashton, Idaho (partial remote schedule possible) Status: Full-time, 40 hours per week Timing and Duration: Position open until...
  • CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
    The Western Landowners Alliance (WLA) was founded in 2012 by landowners and managers to increase the wellbeing of working lands in the American West and...