Water managers are setting the stage for the Toquer Reservoir project

ST. GEORGE: Local, state and federal water managers, along with civic officials and others from across the county, met Tuesday morning in the middle of a brush-covered field outside Toquerville to celebrate the groundbreaking of the long-planned Toquer Reservoir.

On a hill overlooking the future dam site for the future Toquer Reservoir, where the project’s groundbreaking took place, Toquerville, Utah, Nov. 7, 2023 | Photo by Maury Kessler, St. George News

Plans for Toquer Reservoir, a common part of the Ash Creek project, have been in the works for 20 years and did not make significant progress until 2019. The path to the new reservoir was cleared after some hurdles at the federal level and numerous environmental studies. were their course related to the project.

“We are really excited to partner on this project,” said Zach Renstrom, General Manager of Water Districts at the groundbreaking. We had many organizations help provide funds to move this project forward.

The Tokuer Reservoir project received $15 million from the US Bureau of Small Storage’s Small Storage Program, the Utah Division of Water Quality’s Southern Utah Reuse Program and Washington County.

Rick Baxter, regional manager of the Provo Bureau of Reclamation, told St. George News they were grateful to provide some of the funding.

The restoration gave the water district $4.7 million earlier this year. That money came from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2022. Better known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, it gives the bureau $8.3 billion to implement water projects over the next five years.

What they (the water district) are doing and what they’ve been doing is the same mission: to develop and protect water resources, Baxter said.

A diagram showing the general location of the future Toquer Reservoir | Graphic courtesy of Washington County Water Conservancy District, St. George News

Both Renstrom and Baxter shared comments before the ceremonial shoveling of dirt for the groundbreaking. Victor Iverson of the Washington County Commission and Spencer Jones of the Utah Water Resources Board made brief statements during the event.

Toquer Reservoir is projected to have a water capacity of 3,725 acre-feet and cover 115 acres near Interstate 15 and State Route 17 (the road leading to Toquerville from the highway). The reservoir dam will be 125 feet high and 1,270 feet wide.

The Ash Creek Project involves the construction of an 18.8-mile pipeline from Ash Creek Reservoir to the future site of Toker Reservoir. Originally estimated to cost $34 million, the cost jumped to $94 million due to inflation.

The goal of the project is to capture and provide water from the Ash Creek Reservoir near New Harmony that would otherwise be lost to runoff. That reservoir was built in the 1960s alongside I-15 and didn’t work as intended, Renstrom said earlier in St. George told News.

Zach Renstrom, Washington County Water Conservancy District Manager, points out scars on a hillside that mark the anticipated waterline of the incoming Toquer Reservoir, Toquerville, Utah, Nov. 7, 2023 | Photo by Maury Kessler, St. George News

While the nearly 19-mile Ash Creek Pipeline is designed to capture some of the surface runoff water that would otherwise be lost to Ash Creek Reservoir, Renstrom said the reservoir will receive water from the Ash Creek Water Treatment Plant, which is currently in place. built.

The treatment plant will send the treated sewage water to a reservoir where it will provide an alternative source of water for Tokerville’s secondary water system and preserve high quality drinking water from Tokerville Springs.

Water from this reservoir will be provided to farmers who currently use very high-quality water that they prefer to drink, Renstrom said. That’s how they bartered with farmers.

Although it is being built in the Tokerville area, Renstrom added, the reservoir will supply water directly to LaVerquin, Hurricane and Virgin. It would also free up system capacity to deliver more water to Washington City, St. George, Santa Clara and Ivins, he said.

The construction of the reservoir will take about two years. Once completed, the water district anticipates partnering with the Utah State Parks Division to manage recreational opportunities, including non-motorized boating and camping.

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