The board has been engaged in two specific plans to recharge the aquifer: maximizing the water in Coal Creek, which requires they construct a crude pond at a diversion point in Cedar Canyon where the sediment could be removed from the water, thus making it cleaner, so excess water can be returned to the aquifer, and secondly to pump water out of Lake Quichapa and pipe the water to gravel beds where it will percolate down to the aquifer.
The goal meeting was for Engineer Kelly Crane from Ensign Engineering to meet with the board and get more direction for the projects so they can get plans on paper, so the district can take action and move forward.
The plan to pump water out of Quichapa is further along in the planning process and Crane said they can design and create whatever the board directs them to in terms of cost and complexity.
Board Chair Brent Hunter said they need to “do this on the cheap,” and encouraged them to design the most cost-effective model.
Both plans require a great deal of cooperation from Cedar City Corporation as the gravel fields and property to divert Coal Creek is on city property.
“We need have to have the city 100 percent on our team with the entire concept,” Hunter said.
Kal Kahler, a local resident who has spent a lifetime studying water in the valley, said they could be capturing 4,400 acre feet of water a year in the spring runoff out of Coal Creek that currently nobody ever uses. The board discussed that if that water goes first to Quichapa and then is pumped out, they lose a large amount of it to evaporation.
By getting that water directly to the aquifer after it is cleaned, they would lose none of the water to evaporation.
The Coal Creek recharge project is still in the infancy of planning and Hunter expressed concern that Cedar City Engineer Kit Wareham is not convinced diverting the water and removing the sediment is feasible.
One of the primary tenants of the agreement between the CICWCD and the Coal Creek Irrigation Company, which holds nearly all the rights to the water that flows down Coal Creek, is that the district will develop a system to remove the sediment from that water, Hunter said.
Hunter also feels that the sediment, once separated, could be crushed for gravel and would be suitable for road base, which he said Iron County Engineer Steve Platt told him the county very much needs and would buy from the district.
This is extremely important, according to Hunter, because the whole Coal Creek Recharge project creates no income for the district and therefore is difficult to fund.
It was discussed that cleaning the water in Coal Creek before it gets to those who use it for irrigation is a great benefit to farmers and therefore they should contribute to the cost.
Hunter, who uses Coal Creek water to irrigate, said he would be happy to pay more for water if it were cleaner and therefore flowed more easily, and he expected others who irrigate would as well.
The next step, Hunter said, is for members of the CICWCD, Crane and associates to visit the possible diversion site near Milt’s Stage Stop with Wareham and Platt, examine the area, and determine the future of the project.