In the article titled Public Lands Council Discusses Water and Chubs at Joe's Valley published in the June 17 issue of the Emery County Progress, several concerns were raised about early releases of water and the implied impacts because of those releases. The Emery Water Conservancy District wishes to address these concerns.
As a point of explanation, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation owns the Joe's Valley Dam and Reservoir. The Emery Water Conservancy District manages the facilities. Cottonwood Creek Consolidated Irrigation Company owns the water rights. The Cottonwood Creek River Commissioner regulates the flows in the River according to the priority of water rights.
The Emery Water Conservancy District and Bureau of Reclamation use a water supply forecast that is prepared each year by the Natural Resource and Conservation Service for all the streams and rivers in the west. This report determines what the 30 year average stream runoff should be by the snow pack levels received.
As of April 1 of this year the indications were that the water shed above Joe's Valley Reservoir would run between 60,000-60,500 acre feet of water from April through the end of June.
As of April 1, Joe's Valley Reservoir held 43,092 acre feet of water. At capacity it holds 62,450 acre feet. This left space for 19,358 acre feet of runoff.
Cottonwood Creek Irrigation Company and the other water decrees on Cottonwood Creek could put to beneficial use about 22,000 acre feet from April 1 to June 10. This would leave 24,000 acre feet of water to run over the spillway and down the creek.
Because of the high amount of runoff and to prevent damage to downstream structures, the Bureau of Reclamation, Emery Water Conservancy District, Cottonwood Creek Irrigation Company and the River Commissioner made the decision that it was in their best interest to create more space in the reservoir. The water was released from the reservoir early at a rate that the water users could put it to beneficial use.
The early releases amounted to about 8,000 acre feet in excess of the contracted flows. This additional 8,000 acre feet of storage capacity allowed the reservoir to spill after the peak runoff.
The article, as printed, was concerned with the possibility of transporting released water from the Cottonwood Creek drainage to the Huntington Creek drainage. It should be noted that all of the water used in the State of Utah must have a water right. Huntington-Cleveland Irrigation Company does not have a water right on Cottonwood Creek.
Additionally, they do not have a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation to transport non-project water through the federally owned CC