US$7.3 million Tibble Fork Dam rehabilitation project temporarily ceases reservoir drainage

Utah

On Aug. 21, officials decided to temporarily cease draining the Tibble Fork Reservoir as testing is conducted by biologists from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Forest Service as a result of sediment behind the Tibble Fork Dam that was released during the drawdown.

On Aug. 19, the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) encountered high levels of sediment release as the agency continued to drain the Tibble Fork Reservoir located in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, in Provo, Utah. According to published reports, tests are scheduled to begin today.

NRCS began draining the reservoir in late June and is expected to complete the process by this December as part of a US$7.3 million project to rehabilitate the 50-year-old Tibble Fork Dam.

Project goals include strengthening the earthen dam with the intent of extending the dam’s life by more than 50 years and raising the reservoir by 9 ft, according to the NRCS. The agency said with updated technology, more can be done to protect 140 homes located downstream from the dam.

In 2015, the U.S. federal government released $73 million to be dispersed across the nation for watershed rehabilitation funding. In a press conference held April 9, 2015, at Tibble Fork Reservoir, NRCS assistant Chief, Kirk Hanlin, announced $30 million -- 41% of the total federal funds -- would go to Utah to rehabilitate 19 dams with the intent to increase capacity at reservoirs and upgrade related critical infrastructure.

NRCS performed an assessment of Tibble Fork Dam in 2004 and concluded the dam does not meet current NRCS and Utah State Dam Safety regulations, and engineering standards for a high hazard dam.

The dam and reservoir were built in 1966 and the reservoir stores irrigation water for the North Utah County Water Conservancy District. Sediment behind the dam is estimated to have reduced the 259 acre-ft reservoir's capacity by more than 50 acre-ft.

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