Rural Utah residents concerned about perceived groundwater grab

Route 44 by Cedar City
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In drought-stricken Utah, conservation alone will not be enough to save Cedar City from a water crisis. With its aquifer reportedly overdrawnOpens in a new tab., the City is considering alternate sources.

One of those alternates is pumping groundwater from rural Beaver County in western Utah, which is 70 miles away.  According to Kiowa County PressOpens in a new tab., “The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District (CICWCD) has its eyes on two valleys in Beaver County: Pine Valley and its neighbor, Wah Wah Valley. The water district owns water rights in both valleys for 15,000 and 11,275 acre-feet of water, respectively.”

The first phase of the project, called the Pine Valley Water Supply ProjectOpens in a new tab., would include 15 production wells with depths ranging from 500 to 1000 feet.  Alarmed residents perceive the project as a rural water grab that will jeopardize their own water supply and endanger springs that have already been suffering from historic drought.

Not only ranchers and other rural residents are concerned.  The Paiute Indian Tribe of UtahOpens in a new tab. worries that the $260 million project will deplete spring output on reservation lands.  Conservationists are also concernedOpens in a new tab., raising questions that Cedar City is overinflating its future water needs.  Opposition is not contained in just Utah.  Nearby counties in NevadaOpens in a new tab. have expressed concerns that the project will deplete their aquifers.

CICWCD writes that the Pine Valley Water ProjectOpens in a new tab. “is designed with acute attention to possible environmental impacts.”  It holds court-decreed rights to the 15,000 acre-feet of water.

Image Credit:

Utah State Route 14 in Cedar CityOpens in a new tab., Utah, June 2017.  Ken Lund via Wikimedia Commons.




Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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