Saving the Drops: The water future for Iron County
“I like visionaries,” said Hyatt of his work with Ralph Platt who was known for his expertise with the Kolob Canyon Reservoir.
“Those who planned 70 years ago saw to it that Cedar City had streets, water and sewer systems that would be needed into the future.
“The problem with these projects is that it can take 20 years from the first concept to turning on the faucet.
“We know there are deficits, that we are mining our ground-water aquifer,” said Hyatt of the 20,000 acre feet use of water on average, in recent years.
“So the CICWCD has had everything on the table looking for possible solutions to problems – that’s with flood mitigation work and Coal Creek water that was diverted for recharging.” In the 1970s and well into the ‘90s, Hyatt worked with engineer firms, university and joint research studies, and for one year, with the National Water Commission, in Washington, D.C., established legislatively by the U.S. Congress to look at all nationwide water resources.
Still, the county will have to address issues driven by a population jump from 14,500 in 1990 to more than 30,000 plus residents today.
“We’ve been mining this aquifer since the 1930s — mining 6,000 to 8,000 acre feet (af) of water more than we were able to recharge,” said Hyatt of the 2014 CICWCD agency filing that provided ‘right to import’ up to 6,525 af from Wah Wah and 15,000 af from Pine Valley.
In short, Hyatt is not optimistic about the timetable ahead.
Other options considered by the CICWCD can reserve enough water to get Iron County within equilibrium use: to include water rights reduction; conservation, pricing, restoration/reuse of sewer water and putting together a practical, long-term plan.
“We will need to involve the public in that important conversation, so they know what’s going on…and all of that requires time.” Caption: Leon Hyatt is a renowned water resource professional who understands the complexity of bringing communities, stakeholders, agriculture, local government, state and federal agencies together to ensure that water will continue to flow into local fields and through water faucets in Iron County.