The Commission has been working through an agreement with
the Central Utah Water Conservancy District (District)
to acquire water rights in the lower Provo River to
improve instream flows for aquatic species, especially
the June sucker. The
CUP Completion Act provided authorization and
funding to purchase water for efforts to increase
the minimum flow in the Provo River downstream of
the Olmsted Diversion from a committed flow of 25
cubic feet per second (cfs) to a goal of 75 cfs.
The lower Provo River has been the focus of numerous
studies and interagency efforts over the past two
decades, primarily due to the listing of the June
sucker (Chasmistes liorus), a lake sucker endemic
to Utah Lake, as an endangered species by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service in 1986. The lower 4.9 miles
of the Provo River were designated as critical habitat
in the listing, as the June sucker spawns in the lower
Provo River. Therefore most of the monitoring, studies,
and cooperative efforts among many agencies and water
management entities involving the lower Provo River
since that time have focused on the goal of recovering
the June sucker.
The Commission and District initiated the first phase
of a comprehensive study in 2002 to determine relationships
among flow levels and aquatic habitat and other ecological
functions on the Provo River System. Two reports are
available entitled: PROVO RIVER FLOW STUDY Flow-habitat
and Flow-ecological Relationships within the Riverine
Ecosystem: Aquatic Habitat, Riparian Vegetation, Recreational
Uses, Fluvial Processes. The Study area extends from
Jordanelle Dam to Utah Lake. [Click
here to download the Jordanelle to Deer Creek Flow
Study Report, February 2004] [Click
here to download the Deer Creek to Utah Lake Flow
Study Report, March 2003] Data developed from
this study will be used to assess CUP operation effects on aquatic habitats. Study
results may also be used to assess potential impacts
of ULS alternatives as development of an Environmental
Impact Statement for that system continues. Maps from
the first year of the study are also available by
In September 2008, the Commission released a report
Provo River Ecosystem Flow Recommendations. Its
purpose is to summarize and in some instances re-examine
prior data, reports, and recommendations regarding
instream flow regimes for the lower Provo River in
Utah County, Utah. Together with new information and
analyses, it presents recommendations relative to
instream flow regimes for important components of
the lower Provo River ecosystem.
Given competing demands and increased cost of water since passage of CUPCA, it is unlikely that funding authorized for purchasing water will be sufficient to fulfill the statutory goal of establishing a 75 cfs instream flow in the lower Provo; nor, the Commission believes, will it be achievable solely through purchase of water rights on a willing-seller basis. The Commission, District and Department of the Interior (DOI) have therefore incorporated the objective of providing minimum instream flows of 75 cfs into the planning for the Utah Lake Drainage Basin Water Delivery System (ULS). The ULS Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was issued September 30, 2004 [Click here to link to the District's ULS webpage containing downloadable chapters of the EIS]. Constructing and operating the ULS will provide an average of 16,000 acre-feet of supplemental water annually delivered to Utah Lake via the lower Provo River and will help accomplish the 75 cfs minimum instream flow goal. The District and Department of Interior also committed to develop water conservation projects providing an additional 12,165 acre-feet of conserved water annually for Provo River instream flows to support June sucker recovery.
The Commission will contribute $15 million of Congressional appropriations (indexed amount as per fiscal year 2005) toward payment of the proportionate share of the cost of those ULS facilities used to deliver instream flow water; DOI will provide additional funds. This will “purchase” priority capacity of 35 cfs in the Spanish Fork-Provo Reservoir Canal Pipeline for delivery of water for instream flows when exchange water and/or conserved water needs to be delivered to Utah Lake. Approximately $2.1 million (indexed amount as per fiscal year 2005) of authorization will remain available for purchase of water rights, if they become available.
The Commission continues to actively cooperate with the District, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and other affected interests to acquire and provide water and take appropriate actions to achieve the 75 cfs instream flow objective. Strategies include acquisition and exchange of water rights, water conservation and re-operation of water supplies in the basin.
Enclosure of the Provo Reservoir Canal was completed the Spring of 2013. By contributing approximately $150 million to the enclosure project, DOI has obtained 8,000 acre-feet (of the 12,165 identified above) of conserved water, which will be contributed towards June sucker flows in the lower Provo River upon completion of the ULS System.
For information about current Provo River flows, click here to link to the District's reservoir and streamflow data page.