Composite image showing proposed area for the Cove Reservoir in Kane County west of Orderville with overlaid map, Kane County, Utah, date unspecified | Images courtesy of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, St. George News
ST. GEORGE — A project proposed by Kane County water officials would see the creation of a new 6,000 acre-foot reservoir west of Orderville that would be filled with water from the Virgin River upstream of Zion National Park.
The proposed Cove Reservoir would be formed behind a 90-foot tall dam on the East Fork of the Virgin River. Mike Noel, general manager of the Kane County Water Conservancy District, told St. George News on Monday that a purpose of the reservoir is to benefit farmers in Kane and Washington counties, as well as provide recreational and wildlife benefits.
“It’s to collect Virgin River water (and) store it at a higher elevation so there’s less evaporation and make it available to farmers in the area and farmers in St. George and the commercial customers in St. George,” Noel said.
The project would provide an additional 1,600 acre-feet in irrigation to farmers, he said, adding that was equivalent to water used by 3,200 households.
An environmental assessment released Monday by the National Resources Conservation Service states that farmers in the Glendale, Orderville and Mt. Carmel areas experience frequent water shortages in irrigation and agriculture use due to a lack of water storage capacity on the East Fork of the Virgin River. The creation of the Cove Reservoir would help remedy this issue, the assessment states.
Approximately 5,000 acres of farmland in Washington County and 1,100 acres of farmland in Kane County are estimated to benefit from stable irrigation flows from the new reservoir.
While farmers in both counties would get the benefit of additional irrigation, Kane County would also see additional revenue from recreational use focused around the new reservoir.
“There is currently a high demand for recreation sites in Kane County,” the assessment states. “Local recreation areas often exceed visitation capacity, especially during summer months. Implementation of this project would provide necessary water during the summer months to local water users and provide an additional, developed recreation site in the county.”
The project is also projected to be a benefit to the…