A preliminary engineering study points to Garley Wash as the preferred site for a lower elevation reservoir in Carbon County.
It would impound up to 10,000 acre feet of water in two narrow forks about a mile long just west of the golf course back nine holes.
Collin Fawcett, a project manager with Jones & DeMille Engineering, conducted a tour and briefing for members of the Price River Watershed Council Monday.
The council is a comprehensive group of water users and resource management agencies looking for ways to store water that now flows unused during winter months.
Months ago, it decided that any site would have to be near but not on the Price River, and would meet a range of technical requirements for economic feasibility and public safety.
Fawcett said that at this point in the study, it appears that the water would be stored behind a 120- to 160-foot high earthen dam. Such a structure would have an impermeable clay core. The base would be twice as wide as its height on the dry side and three times as wide on the wet side.
Water would be diverted from the Price River near the old Carbon Power Plant and piped downhill to Garley Canyon.
The price tag for the dam and pipeline would be in the $60 million range, but that figure could change as plans become more specific.
Geology is a concern, but does not appear to be a major drawback, Fawcett said. The sides of the wash are alternating layers of shale and sandstone.
Fractures are visible, but could be pressure grouted to provide greater stability, he said. Core samples will provide a picture of the underlying geologic basement.
Multiple land owners
The land to be affected is a patchwork of federal, state and private holdings. Discussions are underway with some owners, Fawcett said.
While the reservoir is probably too narrow for speed boating and too steep for beaches, there are still opportunities for recreation, such as fishing and camping.
The diversion and reservoir would also be below the Castle Gate water treatment plants of Price City and the Price River Water Improvement district. That means the water impounded would be unfit for culinary use, but usable for agricultural or industrial purposes.
In earlier discussions about the project, it had been suggested that Price City could be in a position to swap some of its storable river water shares for Scofield Reservoir water. In that case, the city would gain additional treatable water.
The objective of the project is to conserve and make better use of existing water rights. Each year at the end of irrigation season, water continues to flow down the Price River. This amounts to thousands of acre feet that have no beneficial use.
The reservoir would save that water, lessening the impact of drought and expanding the potential usage.