Iron County agencies actively collaborating to respond to drought, monsoon season

Aerial view of the completed Quichapa Lake Recharge project in Iron County, Utah, 2021 | Photo courtesy of the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, St. George News / Cedar City News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — The entire southwestern United States has been experiencing such dry conditions that scientists are using the term “megadrought” and labeling this the driest 22-year period in at least 1,200 years. In the Cedar Valley, the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District is working to ensure that residents and businesses have enough water while simultaneously restoring health to a declining underground water supply stressed by overpumping and reduced rain and snowfall.

Promotional image courtesy of the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, St. George News / Cedar City News

Unfortunately, water is not a one-solution issue. Each project will come with a price tag, but it’s important that we begin taking action for the future of our communities. Flood control, conservation, recharging and reusing water and new sources of water will all play a role in the future of the Cedar Valley.

Managing monsoonal rains is important, and city and county employees have been working on Coal Creek and storm drain systems to try to prevent flooding this year. For example, Cedar City cleaned out the creek in its boundaries and cleaned out more than 100 catch basins, including storm drain pipes, and also re-established storm drain channels. Iron County and Enoch have cleaned out many creeks, catch basins and storm drains as well.

Cedar City, Enoch and Iron County offer free sandbags to help residents protect their homes and properties. District projects help divert debris and sediment-filled flood waters safely into Quichapa Lake and cleaner waters into recharge basins.

Conservation in agriculture, business and residential settings is another piece of the puzzle. The district has worked to help many agricultural producers convert their sprinkler nozzles to new, more efficient technology, and it supports research taking place at Southern Utah University’s farm that will help farmers maximize their water use.

The district continually strives to educate and encourage businesses and residents to conserve. Through relationships with the Utah State University Extension and other entities, Localscapes landscaping courses and rebates are available to residents.

Flood waters rush through the Woodbury Split diversion structure in Cedar City, Utah, 2021 | Photo courtesy of the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, St. George News / Cedar City News

The six recharge facilities the district has created will help add increased water to the aquifer, especially in years with high spring runoff. The first of the facilities was created in 2015, and the extensive Quichapa Lake Recharge project was completed in 2021.

Most of the recharge facilities are along Coal Creek and have been able to utilize existing gravel pits as water collection basins. The only project that is not along Coal Creek’s path through Cedar City to Quichapa Lake is the Enoch Graben Recharge, to the north of Enoch in an area where springs used to flow.

Aquifer recharge projects put water into the underground supply that would otherwise evaporate, but area officials are also working to reuse water from the Cedar City Wastewater Treatment Plant. Cedar City Corporation, which manages the plant, recently put out a request for proposals for the lease of effluent water from the plant. 

The district is working with Enoch City, Iron County and local growers on a proposal to use effluent water from the plant on an agricultural field. Doing this would optimize the effluent water and decrease pumping from the aquifer in an area where groundwater is declining.

Using water from additional sources is also a proposed water solution. The district continually evaluates new sources within Cedar Valley and outside of the valley. Since 2006, the district has been working on a project to use water from Pine Valley, located northwest of Cedar City. The Pine Valley Water Supply Project is currently in the environmental approval process with the Bureau of Land Management. 

Promotional image courtesy of the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, St. George News / Cedar City News

The valley’s water situation is concerning, and it’s important to optimize our water resources. The district is working with scientists and state and local experts to help create solutions for the area’s water future.

“The district has been serving the Cedar Valley community for 25 years, and we are devoted to ensuring our area has water,” said Paul Monroe, the district’s general manager. “We are experiencing a critical drought, and we are collaborating on solutions that are necessary. It is time for us to each do our part.”  

Each person in the community can do their part to help by being conscious of their water use. Shorten your showers, fix any leaks in or around your home, water outdoors after dark, remove unneeded lawn and ensure plants aren’t receiving more water than they need. Individual efforts can add up to significant water savings. 

For more information about how you can do your part to contribute to solutions, visit today.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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