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Sales of Uintah Basin Replacement Project water through the Upalco Unit in Duchesne County have exceeded expectations, ensuring that there is sufficient demand to prove to the federal government that the multimillion dollar water-storage project is wanted.

Prior to the time, water sales on both the Upalco and Uintah units began in April. The future of the Upalco Unit appeared shaky when irrigation companies voiced concerns about costs, methods of delivery and loss of control of their own water systems.According to Terry Holzworth, UBRP manager, applications have been filled out for 102 percent of the water on the Upalco Unit, while approximately 90 percent of the water on the Uintah Unit in Uintah County has been requested.

Surprisingly, he says, there was about a 90 percent participation rate by the Farnsworth Canal Company for Upalco Unit water. Farnsworth Canal officials had openly expressed their dismay at the lack of answers to their questions surrounding the use and cost of project water.

The tentative sale of at least 90 percent of the water in each unit was necessary to continue three-year-old efforts to move toward the eventual construction of the two massive water projects and related development and improvements. The federally funded water will cost water users $10 per acre foot.

Although the signup deadline was April 30, Holzworth encourages those who are interested in applying for project water to contact his office. Water may still be available in the event that land earmarked for irrigation fails to meet government classification standards.

The next step in the process, which is necessary before congressional funding can be sought for the two units, consists of determining which lands qualify for irrigation with the federal project water.

Holzworth anticipates having land classifications established sometime this fall.

"They can still apply because some of the lands may not be eligible for classification," he said. "We've already begun to take applications for people who may come into play in the event that happens." And he noted, some who have signed the application may not end up signing the final contract, even if their lands qualify.

If all lands are deemed eligible for the water, he said, applications will be prorated and people could end up getting only about 90 percent of the water for which they applied.

Holzworth says engineers recently determined a way to get water delivered to Whiterocks water users from the Uintah Unit, and now work will begin to come up with a way to get water delivered from the Upalco Unit to Roosevelt City for the requested 3,000 acre feet of municipal water.

Specifics on the "overall feasibility" relating to operations of each unit have begun in earnest, along with work on the Environmental Impact Statement, which is due Oct. 16.