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Small Utah town resuming century-old project to retain water during drought

Posted at 4:55 PM, Dec 02, 2022

SANPETE COUNTY, Utah — Despite a wet start to Utah's winter, many local municipalities are looking into ways to find more water after years of drought.

In one small town, they're picking up where leaders left off a century ago with new federal funding to help create a new reservoir above the town.

"Spring City is more fortunate than some communities because we have a lot of springs, which is where we get our name from," Spring City Mayor Chris Anderson said.

Like many other small towns in central Utah, Anderson says they've been hit with population growth and years of drought, which has slowed down many local springs and even dried up some wells.

"It's nice to see the snow and that help, but yeah, we're severely in a drought. It’s going to take a lot to make up for it," Anderson said.

Spring City is looking to drill more wells and meter usage of the water, along with some infrastructure updates, but leaders also hope something called the Freeman Allred project can help.

"We got a sizable grant to work on a project that would build not really a reservoir but a holding pond," Anderson said. "As the runoff comes down in the spring, we would be able to collect and retain that water so it’s not lost."

The funding — more than $20 million from the National Resources Conservation Service under the U.S. Department of Agriculture — helps resume a project that actually started 100 years ago, but was never finished. It also helps with the watershed and flood abatement by creating a more significant reservoir.

"It’s smaller than what you think a reservoir might be. It might be a bigger surface area than Palisades, and the grant includes some funding for a recreational area, but it’s the kind of reservoir that would probably be empty by the time you got to the middle of summer," Anderson said.

The project is currently in the review process. A design is expected to be released sometime next month. Construction on the site located up the canyon east of Spring City is expected to begin sometime next year.