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Scofield Dam is on the Price River, a tributary of the Green River, about 22 miles northwest of Price, Utah, and is the principal feature of the Scofield Project.
The project provides seasonal and long-term regulation of the Price River for supplemental irrigation of about 26,000 acres of land, protection from floods, and water for fish propagation.
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Water is stored in Scofield Reservoir and released as needed into the Price River. Privately built distribution systems deliver water to project lands.
Scofield Dam is a zoned earthfill structure with a structural height of 125 feet. It contains 204,000 cubic yards of material. The spillway is a free overflow concrete chute on the right abutment of the dam. The outlet works consists of an inlet structure, a concrete conduit through the base of the dam, and a gate chamber housing two gates, one for emergency operation and the other for regulation of reservoir outflow.
Operation of the project was transferred from the Bureau of Reclamation to the Carbon Water Conservancy District on April 1, 1949.
Irrigation development of lands served by the Scofield Project began in 1883. Ditch companies were organized, and the water was diverted from the natural flow of the Price River. From time to time, canal systems were combined and extended until it was found that natural flow of the river was inadequate to supply irrigation demands fully.
The Mammoth Reservoir Company was incorporated and made filings on the floodwaters of the Price River in 1896. In 1900, a group of Sanpete County farmers secured the rights of the company for storing water and conveying it by transmountain diversion to their lands.
During 1902, the Sanpete group had financial difficulties and the project passed into the hands of the Irrigated Lands Co. The latter company abandoned the idea of watering Sanpete County lands and made plans to irrigate 25,000 acres near Price, Utah. The company, in cooperation with the State of Utah, proceeded with construction of Mammoth Dam. After going through considerable financial difficulty, the Irrigated Lands Co. was reorganized in 1911 to form the Price River Irrigation Co., which developed the project as rapidly as financial conditions and demand for water would permit. The dam failed June 25, 1917, when it was only partly completed, releasing 11,000 acre-feet of water and causing flood damage estimated at $1 million to railroad and mining property. The dam was never rebuilt.
The Price River Water Conservation District, a municipal corporation, was organized in 1921 for developing storage facilities in the Price River watershed to replace the destroyed Mammoth Dam. Under the district`s direction, Scofield Dam was constructed during 1925-1926. The reservoir formed behind the dam had a capacity of 6,000 acre-feet. In May 1928, with the reservoir practically filled for the first time, the dam partially failed.
Emergency repairs, together with rapid evacuation of storage water through the outlet tunnel, were effective in preventing complete failure and a devastating flood. Numerous attempts at placing the dam in a safe operating condition were unsuccessful. In view of the apparent weakness of the dam, storage in Scofield Reservoir was strictly limited to a maximum of 30,000 acre-feet.
The Bureau of Reclamation investigated the development of the Scofield and Gooseberry Projects in accordance with cooperative contract between the United States and the State of Utah. Results of Reclamation`s studies led to the adoption of the plan to replace the unsafe Scofield Dam with a completely new and larger structure to be erected about 800 feet downstream from the existing dam.
The project was authorized by the President on June 24, 1943, under the terms of the Water Conservation and Utilization Act of August 11, 1939 (53 Stat. 1418), as amended.
Construction of the new storage works was undertaken during World War II to prevent possible flood damage to the main line of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, the State highway, the telephone and telegraph lines, and the coal mines, all of which were important to the war effort.
The Carbon Water Conservancy District was organized in 1943, under the Utah Water Conservancy Act of 1941, for negotiating a contract with the United States for construction of the new dam. Contract negotiations between this district, the Price River Water Conservation District, and the United States were completed in 1943. Construction of the new dam began in 1943 and was completed June 15, 1946.
In an isolated area of Utah, the project furnishes water for growing livestock feed to stabilize the economy of a thriving industry. Principal crops are alfalfa, beans, barley, wheat, corn, potatoes, oats, and some late fruits.
Scofield Reservoir has become increasingly popular for boating. Boat races are held on it annually. For many years the reservoir has provided good fishing for native and rainbow trout and is a valuable source of native trout eggs. Privately operated fishing camps with cabins and boats for rent are located near the reservoir, and private cabins are located along its shores. The Utah Division of Parks and Recreation operates and maintains the recreation area. For specific information about recreational opportunities at Scofield Reservoir click on the name below.
By controlling the flow of the Price River, damage to the railroads and the many coal mines in the area is prevented. Possible failure of the old dam, which the Reclamation dam replaced, is no longer a threat to life and property. Although there is no specific reservoir capacity assigned for flood control, the Scofield Project has provided an accumulated $280,000 in flood control benefits from 1950 to 1999.