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Newton Project History (69 KB) (pdf)
General Description| Plan| Development| Benefits


General Description

The Newton Project is in northern Utah in the vicinity of the town of Newton. Supplemental irrigation water is furnished to 2,861 acres of land from storage in the Newton Reservoir. Approximately 7 miles of main canals carry the water to the distribution system.

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The project rehabilitated and stabilized an established agricultural area by storing supplemental irrigation water in Newton Reservoir on Clarkston Creek. The Reclamation constructed reservoir replaced an older privately constructed reservoir of inadequate capacity which had been formed by a dam 1.5 miles upstream from the present Newton Dam.

Releases from the reservoir flow 0.6 mile through the Main Canal and then divide into the East and Highline Canals. The East Canal serves lands on the east side of Clarkston Creek; the Highline Canal serves farmlands on the west side of the creek.

Facility Descriptions

Newton Dam

Newton Dam is an earthfill structure on Clarkston Creek approximately 2 miles north of Newton. It is 101 feet high and has a volume of 410,000 cubic yards. The reservoir has a capacity of 5,600 acre-feet. The service spillway is controlled by a radial gate. An emergency spillway with an uncontrolled crest 1,000 feet long is located near the west end of the dam. A horseshoe conduit, 4 feet in diameter, controlled by a slide gate, serves as outlet works.

Operating Agencies

Operation and maintenance of the project works was transferred to the Newton Water Users Association on January 1, 1948, at the conclusion of the 2-year development period.

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Trappers, following the Bear River, were the first white men to enter the `Willow Valley,` later named Cache Valley, in the fall of 1824. This group established a camp in the center of the valley. They were part of a Rocky Mountain Fur Company trading party who went up the Missouri River from St. Louis and wintered at the mouth of the Yellowstone River in 18221823.

From 1824 until the settlement of the valley in 1856, it was visited regularly by trappers and other explorers. Captain Howard Stansbury, a topographical engineer for the U.S. Army, made a survey of the valley in 1849 to consider the possibility of the erection of a military post within this area.

Under the leadership of Peter Maughan, a number of Mormon colonists settled near the present town of Wellsville in September 1856. Clarkston, a town adjacent to the project, was settled in 1864. Because of Indian troubles, part of the residents moved to `New Town (Newton)` as it was later called.

A serious shortage of moisture in Newton, during the year 1870, was disastrous to the farming community. At a public meeting in March 1871, the settlers voted to construct a dam on Clarkston Creek. It was built in 1872 with ox and horsedrawn scrapers, and impounded 1,566 acre-feet of water. This reservoir was the first large body of irrigation storage in the State of Utah and probably the first in the United States.


From 1918 to 1938, studies were undertaken to increase the storage facilities. The data acquired were turned over to the Bureau of Reclamation for further investigation in 1938. Because the number of farms requiring irrigation continued to increase and local interests could not finance a more elaborate project, the new dam was authorized for construction.


Construction was approved by the President on October 17, 1940, under the terms of the Water Conservation and Utilization Act of August 11, 1939, as amended. A supplemental funding for completion of the project pursuant to the July 16, 1943, amendment to the act was approved by the President on August 31, 1943.


Construction by the Bureau of Reclamation started in the spring of 1941 with Works Projects Administration labor and funds. Work was suspended by the WPA in November 1942, and the War Production Board issued a stop order in December 1942. Construction was resumed in the fall of 1943, using the balance of WPA funds and an allotment of reimbursable funds made available by the Bureau of Reclamation. The dam was completed in June 1946.

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New storage facilities have provided 2,861 acres of land with additional water to ensure crop maturity, thus stabilizing an established agricultural area previously inadequately irrigated. Principal crops are wheat, sugar beets, alfalfa, grains, and vegetables.


Recreation on Newton Reservoir is administered by Cache County. Main activities are picnicking, swimming, boating, and fishing. Recreation visits in 1996 totaled 7,020.

Flood Control

Newton Dam has no flood control storage allocations, but with prudent and careful reservoir operation, the peak flows and damage downstream can be alleviated in some situations. Although there is no specific reservoir capacity assigned for flood control, the Newton Project has provided an accumulated $65,000 in flood control benefits from 1950 to 1999.

Hydroelectric Power

There is no hydroelectric power produced by the Newton project.

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Last updated: May 11, 2011