Water managers: New Toquer Reservoir will bring additional reliability to county water system

ST. GEORGE — In order to capture water that is otherwise being lost, while also increasing overall water availability, county water planners are moving on a project to build a new reservoir by Anderson Junction.

A map outlining the location of the proposed Toquer Reservoir and the course of the pipeline that will be feeding it, along with highlights of project components along the way. | Image courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management, St. George News

Water has long been described as the lifeblood of the county and its economy, with the Lake Powell Pipeline touted as a necessary project that would both secure and diversify the local water supply, according to state and local water managers.

However, smaller projects closer to home overseen by the Washington County Water Conservancy District are meant to continue developing the local water supply. They also add redundancy to the overall system in order to maintain reliable water delivery for the county, said Zach Renstrom, deputy general manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District.

One such project is the building of the Toquer Reservoir, an associated 18.8-mile pipeline which is part of the estimated $34 million Ash Creek Project.

The purpose of the project is to capture and secure water from the Ash Creek Reservoir near New Harmony that is otherwise being lost to seepage.

“We don’t know where the water is seeping to,” Renstrom said.

At Quail Creek Reservoir, Hurricane, Utah, May 1, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The Ash Creek Reservoir was built in the 1960s alongside Interstate 15.

“It’s never worked very well,” Renstrom said.

The Toquer Reservoir, which would be built in the area of Anderson Junction, is designed to cover 115 acres and hold up to 3,600 acre-feet of water, making it a third of the size of Gunlock Reservoir. The reservoir would be filled with water from the nearly 19-mile Ash Creek Pipeline which would capture part of the surface run-off water currently being lost at the Ash Creek Reservoir through seepage.

Building the reservoir will also create a more reliable source of irrigation water versus the continuing use of Ash Creek, Renstrom said. While the majority of the water from Ash Creek is being used for irrigation, it also produces high-quality drinking water that the district wants to redirect from irrigation to culinary use.

Other aspects of the project include countering water loss through evaporation by replacing open irrigation ditches with a closed, pressurized system, as well as utilizing the project to help recharge the Navajo aquifer.

There is also a plan to create a 13-acre recreation area attached to the Toquer Reservoir. This area could include spots for camping, picnicking, fishing and non-motorized recreational opportunities.

Water released from a pipeline that feeds into the Sand Hollow Reservoir, Hurricane, Utah, June 27, 2016 | Photo By Mori Kessler, St. George News

“We want this to be a great place to recreate in Washington County,” Renstrom said.

The next step in the Ash Creek Project’s development is public comment on its draft environmental assessment study which started Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 2.

The water district filed an application with the Bureau of Land Management for a right-of-way and a lease for the proposed recreation area of the reservoir. The draft environmental assessment has analyzed the proposal and also highlighted alternative options the public can now review and comment on.

Links to the draft environmental assessment and related information can be found here.

Comments may be submitted via the Bureau of Land Management website; emailed to [email protected]; or mailed to the Bureau of Land Management, Attn: Ash Creek Project, 345 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, UT 84790.

Comments must be submitted on, or postmarked by, Dec. 2 to be considered.

Please include your name and street address. Your entire comment – including your personally identifiable information – may be made publicly available at any time. You can request your personally identifiable information be withheld from public review, but the BLM cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so.

A public meeting on the project will also be held Nov. 18 from 6-8 p.m. at the Toquerville City Office, 212 N. Toquerville Blvd., Toquerville.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!