Army Corps of Engineers Deals Major Blow to Proposed Gooseberry Dam
The Army Corps of Engineers has withdrawn a critical permit application needed for a proposed dam in Sanpete County, dealing a massive blow to the controversial and unpopular project. The unexpected withdrawal by the Army Corps demonstrates serious problems with this archaic $60 million proposal. According to the Army Corps, the Sanpete Water District’s permit application has been “administratively withdrawn pending the issuance of a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.” In a letter to the District, the Army Corps states that the development of the proposed project has the potential to cause significant adverse effects to the quality of the human environment.
The proposed 120 foot-high dam and trans-basin diversion would spell disaster for aquatic species like native cutthroat trout that rely on the Price River and key tributaries Gooseberry and Fish Creeks, as well as human communities in nearby Carbon County. The proposed project would endanger the water quality, water supply, and economic future of Carbon County because it threatens Scofield Reservoir, Carbon County’s main water supply.
The Army Corps determined that some of the data for the project is more than 20 years old and they didn’t consider threatened and endangered species. Even more damning for the proposed dam is the Army Corps’ determination that the purpose and need for the proposed project remains “unclear and problematic.”
The Sanpete Water District has run into controversy itself because the entity has a mysterious history. The District has no staff, no offices, no water infrastructure or facilities, no trucks, no agency website and has never sold a drop of water to Sanpete residents. The agency has been collecting property taxes for several decades and was out of compliance for 4 years with state financial reporting laws, according to the State Auditor.