Water Issues

UDOT has announced its final round of options for a new Heber bypass.

Two of these options cut straight through our North Fields. If either option is chosed homes and land will be destroyed. Agricultural land will be severely damaged.

But there are grave environmental concerns as well. This will destroy wetlands and wildlife habitats, have a multitude of negative impacts on the Provo River, and threaten Heber's Class 1A Aquifer.

This is one danger among many our water is facing from the proposed course of development for our valley. Join us in fighting for clean, accessible water.

Additional Reading: Groundwater sensitivity to proposed developments
 

This report was released earlier this year by Wasatch County and contains important information about environmental concerns related to the NVOZ and other developments in the county. Please take a look!  Much of Heber City's water supply (and that of other Valley citizens) comes from a Class 1A Aquifer.

 

In its report, Wasatch County names the northern end of Heber Valley, which the City and developers have targeted for high density development, as having the highest sensitivity to potential groundwater contamination because of its high soil permeability, high water table and other natural features.  How do you feel about high density development in this area? Let us know!

Additional Reading: Randy Ray Goetz's Master's Thesis on UDOT proposal's effects on the Provo River
 
Analysis of master’s thesis of Randy Ray Goetz.

 


This thesis measured whether the Provo River Restoration Project (PRRP) that was mandated
by congressional action (1992) in accordance with the National Environmental Protection Act
(NEPA) met some of its design features. Of interest to a potential North Fields Bypass Road,
was his analyses of whether the “hyporheic zone” of the Provo River was increased by the
restoration.


The hyporheic zone (HZ) of a stream extends to a depth of over 4 meters beneath the stream
and to widths of at least 50 meters either side of the stream. In this zone, organisms from the
stream inhabit subsurface water, living in spaces in porous substratum. (Page 7). The HZ is
crucial to the ecology of the stream (Page 9).
Beginning on page 74, Mr. Goetz, reports his studies on the effect of PRRP on the river’s HZ. He
used a rhodamine fluorescent dye injected into the river for his measurements. HZ was not
increased and the reasons why apply directly to a potential bypass and its potential negative
impact.


Mr. Goetz found that the Provo River gains 1 cubic meter per second/Sec of water through out
the length of the middle Provo. This comes from groundwater: Page 80. “All study reaches gain
ground water discharge on the order of 1 cubic meter/sec over a typical reach length
(approximately 650 meter).” He mentions this value in other parts of his study including P90:
“No significant in flow or outflow points occurred in the study reaches, though all reaches
gained about 1 cubic meter/second of ground water discharge.”

Mr Woetz’s two reasons for why the PRRP did not further increase HZ is (Page 110) : 1) “One
naturally imposed limitation is the regional ground water regime [Woessner, 2000]. The
Provo River gains on the order of 1 m3/s of flow per 650 m of channel length. The
prevalent ground water gradient toward the stream could limit hyporheic flow from
extending laterally any significant distance into the adjacent floodplain. There could be
anthropogenic boundary conditions imposed through various construction techniques as
well”.


That is, the high pressure of regional ground water flowing into the Provo River may
prevent the distance that HZ can flow against that gradient.
Just as disturbing is the effect of construction by heavy machinery on subsurface flow
(his “anthropogenic boundary conditions”, above). He addresses this on page 111,
where he describes compaction and “clogging” by particulates during construction with
heavy machinery as inhibiting lateral flow in the sub-surface. Thus, a freeway could
compact or clog the soils, making a barrier to the important subsurface waters that are
an important water source to the Provo River. It could seriously damage the
hydrological patterns of subsurface flow in the Provo River basin and flow to the Provo
River.

Those who are familiar to the North Fields know well this “river” of subsurface water that
flows through the cobble just below the surface and fluctuates with the season. Thus, it
is not just visible “wetlands” that are at issue here, but the subsurface return flow to the
Provo River.

Finally, Mr. Goetz’s admonition on Pages 17,18 is critically important to any massive
building in the North Fields: “This suggests that a strong, real-time feedback should
exist between the planning and execution of monitoring and [bypass] restoration
activities. The collection of baseline data is critical in the planning process, and in
quantifying change [Kondolf, 1995]. This indicates that monitoring should begin well in
advance of [bypass] restoration activities.”


The extensive sub-surface water flowing to and replenishing critical water to the Provo
River (1cubic meter of water every 650 meters) has only begun to be understood and
would require extensive study to define. That should be done well before any proposal
to put a divided highway bisecting the North Fields.

Read the full report here