Box Elder County officials are again making their concerns known about a future pipeline that would take water from the Bear River south to Salt Lake City and other thirsty Wasatch Front communities, after a new report from the state that identifies several sites for potential future dams along the Bear River.
A November report from the Utah Division of Water Resources identified 13 potential reservoir combinations and pipeline alignments on the Bear River, including six possible dam sites in Box Elder County.
At the Box Elder County Commission’s last meeting of 2019 last Wednesday, Commissioner Stan Summers said the main issue for the county isn’t necessarily the dams themselves, but the pipelines that would carry water south to population centers along the Wasatch Front.
“Our biggest problem is some of the pipelines they’re looking at now are going right through I-15, Perry, Willard, and we would like to talk a little bit about that,” Summers said. “Can you imagine a 10-foot pipeline full of water going down basically the middle of our county?”
He said the county isn’t formally opposed to the plans in the form of a resolution against them, “but we would like to really have them take a good, long, hard look about where they want to put this.”
Summers said he and his fellow commissioners have been pushing for an alternative pipeline route that would run west of the freeway and population centers of the county.
“We’d like to see them go out through Howell and down through the Promontorys (Promontory Mountains),” he said.
The Utah study addresses some 273,000 acre feet of water from the Bear River that could be stored. Currently, 220,000 acre feet have been allocated to four water districts, including 60,000 acre feet each to the Bear River and Cache districts, and 50,000 acre feet each to the Weber Basin and Jordan Valley districts.
Summers said the new report from the state acknowledges the concerns of the county “in very small letters, because of the plain fact that all three of us (commissioners) have been talking to them about making sure (a pipeline is) not going to go straight down the middle of Box Elder.”
There will be time to work out possible alternate pipeline routes, as any new dams or pipelines aren’t likely to be built for at least 25 years, according to state water officials.
Eric Millis, director of the Utah Division of Water Resources, said in a news release in November that any such projects under the Bear River Development Act of 1991 will happen later than initially thought.
“When the legislation passed almost 30 years ago, the projected need for this water was in 2015,” Millis said. “Thanks primarily to conservation efforts, new technology and some smaller water development projects, current projections indicate the need for this project has been pushed out to between 2045 to 2050.”