CEDAR CITY (AP) — Central Utah's existing, developed water supply systems cannot meet the demands of population growth in the region, a study by a private consultant says.
The report for the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District is part of a developing regional capital facilities plan being drafted by Stanley Consultants Inc. The preliminary findings were made public for the first time Thursday at a district meeting.
In a letter, a report study engineer said the Cedar basin is essentially hydrogeologically closed, meaning it has no significant inflow or outflow of water. Engineer Ted Mickelsen said groundwater sources in the basin are over appropriated and closed to any new water rights.
Mickelsen estimates some 42,000 acre feet of new water sources will be required to meet the needs of users in the district area through 2060.
The available water supplies within district boundaries that can be tapped for future demand include existing developed water, conversion of agricultural water to municipal and industrial use and the development of existing water rights, Mickelsen said.
Demand projections include data from water master plans for Cedar City and Enoch, the two largest constituents of the district. The data includes population estimates, development plans and other projects from the cities and the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget. The analysis also considered the year's demand for agricultural water, which is estimated at 27,500 acre feet.
"The total demand for municipal, industrial and agricultural water uses exceeds the sustainable yield of available sources by about 2,400 acre feet per year," Mickelsen's letter said.
Based on the analysis, the district could face a deficit of up to 6,000 acre feet by 2020, district engineer Kelly Crane said.
"I tend to believe that these studies can be overinflated for the sake of shock," district board members Dale Brinkerhoff said after the meeting. "But it does indicate the need to develop water, and I concur with that."