The Bureau of Land Management and the Washington County Water Conservancy District are negotiating a land swap that would give the district 3,000 acres to build a new reservoir.
The exchange and dam development are subject to an environmental impact statement. The two agencies have hired Greystone consultants to conduct the study.The district would give the BLM 1,380 acres adjacent to Zion National Park on the North Fork of the Virgin River and 1,550 acres on the Kolob Terrace, also bordering the park.
In exchange, the BLM would give the district 3,000 acres in the Hurricane Sand Dunes, where the proposed Sand Hollow reservoir would be built.
The district would also receive title to 40 acres along the Virgin River east of LaVerkin and 480 acres below Quail Creek dam, where it already has easements.
If the value of the BLM land exceeds that of the district's property, a BLM spokesman said, the district will purchase and offer the BLM additional land within the county's proposed Habitat Conservation Plan area.
The area incorporates habitat for the endangered desert tortoise.
Sand Hollow would hold about 30,000 acre-feet of Virgin River water piped three miles from existing Quail Creek Reservoir, which holds 40,000 acre-feet.
District General Manager Ron Thompson said preliminary engineering studies have been conducted on Sand Hollow, which would supplement Quail Creek as water storage for the fast-growing area.
He expects the environmental study to take at least 20 months.
The BLM will hold public scoping meetings on the proposal and invites written comments to be sent to the BLM's Dixie Resource Area office in St. George.