By Julie Johansen
In the summer of 2014, three flash floods following severe thunderstorms caused damage to the newly constructed Adobe Wash Reservoir as well as homes in Castle Dale and Orangeville. The floods nearly washed out the bridge that crosses Cottonwood Creek in Orangeville and threatened the water treatment plant that serves four communities. This prompted the Emergency Watershed Project (EWP) deemed the Cottonwood Project. Congress established the EWP to respond to emergencies created by natural disasters, such as floods or fires. These projects are administered by the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
With a combined investment of $3.3 million and 18 months of construction work, Utah NRCS and Emery County restored these threatened functions for irrigation as well as municipal and industrial water for farmers, ranchers, PacifiCorp Hunter Power Plant and cities. The value of these properties is nearly $9.4 million with business and agricultural losses that could total over $500,000.
“We appreciate the NRCS and their willingness to put the funding together for Emery County,” Emery County Sheriff’s Office Captain Kyle Ekker said. “We have developed a working relationship with them and look forward to future projects with them.”
For the Cottonwood Project, Johansen & Tuttle completed the engineering, NRCS specialists obtained the NEPA clearances, and Utah contractors performed the construction.
“The success of this project is due to the great partnership of local landowners, county and federal agencies and local community leaders that will provide benefits for years to come,” said Tim Wilson, NRCS State Conservationist.
The project protected a major reservoir, the Adobe Reservoir, and saved a water treatment plant for two cities. The project also protects a floodwater detention basin, six homes, two public buildings, 1.15 miles of county road and four utilities. Two thousand feet of debris was removed and 2,550 feet of streambank was stabilized as a result of the emergency watershed project just completed along Cottonwood Creek in Emery County.
The completion of this project was celebrated on Friday, May 11 at the Emery Water Conservancy District Office in Castle Dale, followed by a tour of three of the project sites.