The Emery Water Conservancy District (EWCD) made history on Tuesday morning as it received a title transfer of ownership of the Emery County Project from the federal government. This project, along with the Uintah Basin Replacement Project, are the first two title transfers under the new authority provided by the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (Dingell Act), which President Trump signed in March of 2019.
“These title transfers fulfill the Trump Administration’s goals to streamline bureaucratic processes, empower local ownership and facilitate infrastructure investment and job growth,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt. “Transferring some facilities into local ownership is also a win for the federal government, which will save taxpayer dollars due to decreased operating costs and reduced liability.”
It has taken a lot of time and manpower to get to this point, but Tuesday showed it was well worth the effort. The title transfer will be a benefit to the county, and the process it took to complete it will be a blueprint for other counties looking to reclaim land from the federal government.
“I appreciate the hard work of the Emery Water Conservancy District, Department of the Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture to get this important water project transferred to local ownership,” said Congressman John Curtis. “This will ensure that residents will continue to have access to important recreational opportunities in the region while also easing important infrastructure improvements to guarantee future water access to Emery County.”
Speaking specifically about the Emery County Project, EWCD has been responsible to maintain the project for over 50 years. EWCD has also paid back the government for construction costs and now that the title is in the hands of the county, it will allow for the project to be managed more efficiently and effectively by local hands.
“Transfer of title to the Emery County Project from the United States to the Emery Water Conservancy District is a real benefit to the Emery County area as it will foster better opportunities for efficient and cost-effective operation, management and care of the project at the local level and guarantee continued project benefits to all stakeholders in the short and long term,” said Emery County Water Conservancy District General Manager Jay Humphrey.
In a press release by the U.S. Department of the Interior, it gave a brief description of the Emery County Project. It reads, “the Emery County Project title transfer will convey ownership to all project facilities and federal lands necessary for project operation, maintenance and replacement, including the Joe’s Valley and Huntington North dams and reservoirs, Swasey Diversion Dam, Cottonwood Creek-Huntington Canal, Huntington North Service and Feeder canals and evacuation pipeline and Upper Lakes Reservoir. The transfer includes 1,104 acres of federal lands adjacent to and necessary for operation and maintenance of those facilities. The Emery County Water Conservancy will continue to work closely with the U.S. Forest Service to ensure access to recreational facilities around the reservoir. The project serves irrigation, recreation, fish and wildlife, and municipal and industrial needs in Emery County.”
Those on the call included, but were not limited to Senator Mike Lee, Representative Rob Bishop, Representative John Curtis, U.S. Department of the Interior Senior Officials, Jay Humphrey, EWCD Manager, and the Moon Lake Water Users Association Manager.