THE HISTORY OF WEBER BASIN WATER CONSERVANCY DISTRICT
The United States Bureau of Reclamation began planning for the Weber Basin Project in 1942, and Congressional authorization of the Project was received in 1949. The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District (WBWCD) was created on June 26,1950, by a decree of the Second District Court of Utah, under the guidelines of the Utah Water Conservancy Act. The District was formed to act as the local sponsor of the federal project and to further supply water resources to the population within its boundaries.
The original project, including reservoirs, canals, irrigation and drainage systems and power plants were constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation from 1952 through 1969. The District entered into a repayment contract with the United States in 1952, which will be completed in approximately 2034, to repay all of the original Project costs and interest related to water supply. Funding for this repayment and the development of other water sources is from water sales and the original one mil property tax placed on the District at its inception.
The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District covers over 2,500 square miles within five counties: Davis, Weber, Morgan, Summit and a part of Box Elder. The District is governed by a nine member Board of Trustees: three from Davis County, three from Weber County, one from the upper Weber County, one from Morgan County, and one from Summit County. The General Manager for the District is Tage I. Flint. Under his direction, there are three Assistant General Managers, Mark Anderson, Scott Paxman and Darren Hess, six Department Managers: John Davis, Controller and Human Resources Manager; Sherrie Mobley, Administration Manager; Mark Clark, Maintenance Manager; Chris Hogge, Irrigation and Power Manager; Jon Parry, Engineering Manager and Brad Nelson, Municipal & Industrial Water Manager. The District currently employs approximately 90 employees.
Weber Basin delivers approximately 220,000 acre-feet of water annually: 60,000 acre-feet for municipal and industrial uses and 160,000 acre-feet for irrigation, which includes secondary pressure irrigation systems. The District operates seven large storage reservoirs which store approximately 400,000 acre-feet of the District’s water. The reservoirs are: Causey, East Canyon, Lost Creek, Pineview, Smith & Morehouse, Wanship and Willard Bay. Due to the later priority of the District’s water rights on the river systems, it is necessary to have storage volume equal to a two year water supply. The District operates three hydro-power generation plants that can produce up to about 8 megawatts of electricity. Also operated and maintained are over 79 miles of canals, a trans-mountain tunnel, two multi-county aqueducts, hundreds of miles of raw water and culinary pipelines, and nine major pumping stations.
The District is unique for its ability to serve five classifications of water service, including agricultural water (flood and pressure), drinking water, industrial supplies, groundwater replacement and pressurized/ secondary water. The groundwater replacement water being for the areas east of the Wasatch Front, including upper Weber County, Morgan County and Summit County.
Three drinking water treatment plants and related distribution systems were also constructed by the District between 1959 to 1962. They are all undergoing extensive rehabilitation and modernization projects to meet new EPA drinking water standards. The District currently provides culinary water to approximately 425,000 people in the five counties. In addition to the treatment plants, the District operates 17 deep, large capacity wells to increase supply and capacity to the District’s customers. Depths are up to 1,200 feet and capacities up to 5,000 gallons per minute. Weber Basin Water acts as a wholesaler of drinking water to cities, and other districts and agencies. These entities then deliver to the tap of individual users.
Future issues for the District center around development of sufficient water supplies and facilities to meet the needs of the growing population within its boundaries. Water conservation plays an increasingly important role as new sources are likely to be difficult and expensive to develop. Water demands on the District are projected to double in the next 40 years even with the assumption that the existing per capita use will reduce significantly. These projections, along with the constant need to upgrade and rehabilitate existing infrastructure, push the financial needs projections to one half billion dollars over the next 30 years. Beyond conservation, new projects will include completion of groundwater drilling, change of use of local river supplies and probably a large regional importation project.