San Juan County officials met with the State Water Board on February 17 in Salt Lake City to discuss on-going water projects being considered for two sites northwest of Monticello.
County Commissioners Bruce Adams and Lynn Stevens, Monticello City Councilman Walter Bird, County Planner Evan Lowry, Don Andrews, Director of the local Natural Resources Conservation Service and Norman Johnson, head of the San Juan Water Conservancy District, met with the state engineers for discussions on additional water storage for Monticello.
The Clay Draw site has been under consideration for some time. It was drilled last year and engineering and drawings are almost complete. However, problems have been encountered because the site is underlaid with mancos shale, which is less desirable than clay or other kinds of rock. Also the depth and layout of the site would create enormous pressure on the back of the dam, which would require expensive remediation measures.
As things stand right now, the cost of the new dam would be between $25 and 40 million for a reservoir about the same size as Loyd’s Lake, which holds about 4,000 acre feet when filled to capacity. A favorable feature at Clay Draw is that water would easily gravity flow to Monticello’s existing storage reservoirs.
Because of the projected cost of the Clay Draw site, discussion at the meeting shifted to the possibility of raising the dam at the existing Gordon Reservoir. This would delay things because that site would have to be drilled this summer and a new round of engineering and drawings completed. However, the cost of raising the Gordon Reservoir Dam to hold as much water as Clay Draw will be about $15 million—approximately half the Clay Draw tab.
Gravity flowing water from Gordon to Monticello would be more difficult, but not impossible. A survey will be completed this spring to ascertain the ramifications of gravity flowing stored water from Gordon Reservoir to Monticello.
Commissioner Adams said he is determined to forge ahead with the most cost effective site. “What price can you put on water?” he asked.
“The Loyd’s Lake Dam cost $8 million 23 years ago. Many people said it was foolish to spend that kind of money for so little storage. Where would we have been as a City the last few years without Loyd’s Lake? Even at $30 million, another reservoir the size of Loyd’s Lake will seem cheap in a few more years. Getting permission to build dams is not getting any easier or cheaper. We need to get it done while we can,” he said.