Carbon County's Objections

Various entities in Carbon County -- most notably and vocally the Carbon County Commission -- have been objecting to the Narrows for decades. Even though Carbon promised in writing (See Compromise Agreement) in 1984 to stop objecting, Carbon's objections continue. Various water, engineering and legal experts have answered the objections time after time with accurate, independent data. Still, Carbon protests.

Following are some of Carbon's objections (from articles and e-mails written by commissioners and former commissioner Bill Krompel).

Objection: If the Narrows is built, Carbon County won't have enough water in dry years.
Fact: Carbon has been using water that belongs to Sanpete for decades. Why? Because even though Sanpete owns the water, it has had no means of storing it. Thus, our desire to get the Narrows built (and, a compelling reason behind Carbon's continual objections to our storage project). Think of loaning your neighbor a shovel. You weren't using it, he needed it, so you were happy to loan it to him. Then, several years later, you need your shovel back and go ask for it. "It's right there, in your garage," you say. But your neighbor replies, "That's my shovel. It's been here for years. I need it; you can't have it back." That's what's going on with the water that belongs to Sanpete. Carbon has been using it for years, and now thinks they own it. The Utah Supreme Court, and the US Department of Justice both confirm that the water belongs to Sanpete.

Objection: The project is too expensive; it'll cost $58 million to build.
Fact: The most recent cost estimate for the Narrows Project is $32.3 million. That budget comes from knowledgeable engineers, and includes a factor for inflation during the project. It also includes $4 million for replacement of any wetlands, for creation of public recreational facilities, and for repair/remediation of any damage done by the project's construction. Yes, $34 million is a lot of money. (Sadly, the project could have been built for $17 million 15 years ago, but Carbon County's objections had much to do with delaying it.) But at $34 million, the cost is still an acceptable amount for the water and economic benefits it will create.

Objection: Sanpete is seeking subsidies from federal and state tax dollars.
Fact: Most of the cost of building the Narrows will be loans, which Sanpete will repay out of the proceeds of water sales to those who use the water.

Objection: The Narrows will only benefit North Sanpete County.
Fact: That has always been the intent, ever since the project was promised to Sanpete nearly 80 years ago. Is there something wrong with helping the economy in the part of our county that needs it? Isn't it better that Sanpete have some water storage, instead of no water storage at all?

Objection: The Narrows only serves the purpose of providing late fall water to produce an additional crop of hay.
Fact: That's like saying a person shouldn't go to work, because the income "only serves to allow the family to pay rent and buy food." The economic benefit of the Narrows to Sanpete County is huge. Sanpete's economy is agriculture. For a farmer, the difference between three crops of hay versus two crops often means the difference between an annual profit versus an annual loss, which eventually drives the farmer out of business.

Objection: We (Carbon) object to building the dam on our water shed.
Fact: Carbon agreed -- in writing -- in 1984 to the location, the construction, and the size of the Narrows, and that the water rights belonged to Sanpete. Carbon also agreed -- in writing -- to stop objecting to the Narrows. (We're wondering where integrity figures into this.)

Objection: The Narrows will be economically damaging to Carbon County.
Fact: Much of the water that will be stored in the Narrows Project is presently wasted because it spills uncontrollably out of Scofield Reservoir, and flows downriver, eventually to California. Scofield does not have the capacity to store the water nor divert it into Carbon's canals and ditches. The economic damages claimed by Carbon are simply not founded.

Objection: The Narrows will be environmentally damaging to the Carbon County watershed.
Fact: The Narrows Project includes extensive mitigation measures and budgets to offset negative effects to the environment.

William Krompel Guest Editorial