While area residents of Orem were celebrating Christmas and the new year, employees at the Central Utah Water Conservancy District were moving into their new offices at the mouth of Provo Canyon in Orem.
Gene Shawcroft, the district’s general manager and CEO, said it is the right move at the right time for the right reasons.
The new and larger location is at 1426 E. 750 North, suite 400.
The old building at 355 W. University Parkway featured indigenous gardens and an amphitheater for classes and programs. Shawcroft said while the gardens go away, the gardening classes, as well as others, will be expanded so they won’t have to turn away those who want to attend.
“There will be more focus on classes in working with the community,” he said. “We’ll have broader issues and more intense education.”
While the new location will give CUWCD more class space, that is not the primary reason for the need for a larger building. Shawcroft said it actually has to do with growth in the community.
With the current and projected population growth and water planning for the future, more employees will be needed to keep up. The new building was cost-effective and makes sure that the district has the capacity for what will be needed, according to Shawcroft.
“Central (CUWCD) is preparing for this (growth) transition,” he said. “We are better situated and are closer to our facilities.”
When it comes to growth and enough available water, Shawcroft said they are planning right now for the next 50 or more years.
It is expected that between now and 2065 there will be a 176.6 percent population growth in Utah County, according to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.
Shawcroft added, “Cities do a fabulous job managing within their city boundaries, but who is planning for the growth?”
Planning for the water needs of the Wasatch Range started as early at 1922, but came on in full force on April 11, 1956, when the Colorado River Storage Project passed in Congress.
“That authorized the Central Utah Project,” Shawcroft said. “The Central Utah Project started in 1964. The project was to bring Colorado River water to the Wasatch. It is 2019 and we still haven’t completed aspects of CUP.”
CUWCD collects water from the High Uintas through the Strawberry Aqueduct and Collection System and feeds water to the Provo River and to the Diamond Fork System to the Spanish Fork River.
More water will be needed to feed to places of predicted growth, like Payson, Salem, Santaquin and points south. It is also planning for the western growth areas like Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs. The new Olmsted Power Plant and Olmsted flow line must stay status quo, Shawcroft said. Conservation is a must.
“Central Utah covers eight counties and about 62 percent of the population of Utah,” Shawcroft said.
While many people are concerned about conservation and the future growth, Shawcroft said people still want to turn on their taps and get instant water.
So how does that happen? A brief lesson called “From Mountain Top to Kitchen Tap” is presented in the district’s PrepareGo booklet that helps the public understand how they get their water.
There are 756 dams in Utah regulated by state or federal agencies. The water comes from the mountains. It takes about four hours to treat water to safe drinking standards, according to the booklet.
There are about 10,000 miles of large water transmission pipelines in Utah. Water travels an average of 100 miles to get to your Utah home.
“We have our water business together,” Shawcroft said. “Our plans are in place.”
While the district continues to accomplish their 50-year goals, he encouraged residents to be conservation wise.
“We need to be wiser about our use,” Shawcroft said.
He said the public is welcome to join classes and learn water conservation, indigenous gardening and other ways to lower the water intake. For information, call the district at 801-226-7100 or visit https://cuwcd.com.