Local leaders celebrated the completion today of the Provo Reservoir Canal Enclosure, one of the most significant water projects in Utah. The celebration comes after nearly two decades of planning, negotiating and hard work from several of the Wasatch Front’s major water districts and local governments. But the project isn’t without some loose ends.
The new 21-mile-long pipeline encloses what used to be known as the Murdock canal. It stretches from the mouth of Provo Canyon to the Point of the Mountain and will help better supply cities in both Utah and Salt Lake County with clean water. It’s operated by the Provo River Water Users Association but is buried in land that is owned by the U.S Bureau of Reclamation. In 2004, as part of the project’s master plan, Congress passed legislation that would allow the title to be transferred to the Association. But now, at its completion, that still hasn’t happened. The Association’s general manager, Keith Denos, says he has hopes that it will happen soon.
“We’ve run up against some struggles with reclamation in some definitions of what the title transfer act actually says," Denos says. "So, we’re working through those administratively and legislatively, back in congress, but hopefully we can get those things figured out and rectified within the year.”
Senator Orrin Hatch helped get the original legislation passed. He says this project shows just how much can be done when communities work together to achieve a goal.
“I think that our state has, time and again, demonstrated that when given an opportunity we can be responsible and efficient stewards of our lands and other natural resources," Hatch says. "I think we can do a better job than the federal government, personally.”
A recreational trail above the enclosed pipeline is expected to open to the public in mid May.