Huntington-Cleveland Project Chronicle

    photo: irrigated cropland in Castle Valley
    Irrigated cropland - Castle Valley


Socio-economics is a multidisciplinary field of study encompassing subjects including economics, history, sociology, and other topics. The main focus of socio-economics is interactions between economics and social relationships. Whenever an activity affects the economy, there are additional effects within the social makeup of the affected community. And whenever there are changes in a society, the economy of that society is affected. This web site provides resources that will help interested people to understand some of the socio-economic issues related to implementation of the Huntington-Cleveland salinity control project.

Emery County lies along the east side of the Wasatch Plateau between Carbon County, to the north, and Wayne County, to the south. The east border of the County is the Green River. The major landforms in the County are the Wasatch Plateau mountains, Castle Valley, and the San Rafael Swell desert. Castle Valley lies in a desert environment between the mountains and the “Swell”. The three communities participating in the Huntington-Cleveland project - Huntington, Cleveland, and Elmo - are located within Castle Valley.

Local Economic History


photo: Downtown Huntington
Downtown Huntington

The town of Huntington was first established in 1877 by Mormon settlers who came to the area from Sanpete County. These settlers immediately began building an irrigation system, which became the basis for the system that has been upgraded by the new Huntington-Cleveland salinity control pOctober 2, 2008f the local economy, since soon after 1900 the main source of income in Huntington has been coal. Today, coal mining and coal-fired power production provide the bulk of employment and economic activity within Huntington as well as the surrounding community.

photo: Cleveland main east-west road
Cleveland - main east to west road

Cleveland was originally settled in 1885 by people from Huntington and Scofield, Utah. Cleveland is much smaller than Huntington and lies east of the main north-south highway through Emery County. Although Cleveland is a heavily agricultural community, like Huntington, it is dependent on a coal-based income. There are only minimal visible retail facilities in Cleveland, being limited to a single convenience store.

photo: Road from Elmo to Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry
Road from Elmo to Dinosaur Quarry

As is the case with Cleveland, Elmo sits off of the main highway through Emery County and is much smaller than Huntington. Elmo serves as the primary gateway to the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, where many dinosaur bones have been found and where excavation continues during the warmer seasons of the year.

Project Benefits

Implementing the Huntington-Cleveland salinity control project is expected to generate many benefits to participating agricultural producers and to the local community. For the producers, there will be benefits in increased output as well as gains in production efficiency that translate into less time spent on irrigation and more time available for other work and leisure activities. For the community, there will be economic multiplier benefits that are generated as local producers spend some portion of their additional income at local businesses.

In 1990, the total dollar benefits expected to be generated by the Price-San Rafael Rivers Unit of the Colorado River Salinity Control Program were estimated as being equal to between $9.3 million and $10.3 million dollars per year. Approximately 25 percent of these benefits, or between $2.33 million and $2.58 million annually, are expected to result from implementation of the Huntington-Cleveland portion of the overall project.

When producers convert from either unimproved or improved flood irrigation to sprinkler irrigation, not only does this increase irrigation efficiency in terms of water used, it also increases crop yields. This is due to the change from somewhat haphazard application of water to even, fairly precise application of water. This enables every plant in a field to receive the optimum amount of water, given the climate conditions in the local area.

Within the project area, the maximum potential yield for alfalfa (assuming 100% efficiency) is estimated at 6.8 tons per acre. Under a 25 percent efficient unimproved flood irrigation, a producer might expect to obtain 1.7 tons per acre. In contrast, upgrading to an 85 percent efficient pivot sprinkler irrigation system would result in an increase in yield to 5.8 tons per acre. In dollar terms, at a market price of $120 per ton this would mean a difference of approximately $495 more per acre per year in gross revenue (before additional production costs).

photo: Flood irrigated field - Emery County photo: Flood-irrigated field, Emery County photo: Sprinkler-irrigated field, Emery County
Flood irrigation ditch, Emery County Flood-irrigated field, Emery County Sprinkler-irrigated field, Emery County

For every dollar of federal cost-share money spent on the final products of a given industry sector in Carbon and Emery Counties, the corresponding spending multiplier shows the total amount of economic activity, given in the number of dollars, that will be generated by that spending (including the original dollar spent). The two spending multipliers shown are Output and Total Value Added.

For every job created by federal cost-share spending in a given industry sector in Carbon and Emery Counties, the corresponding employment multiplier shows the total labor demand, given in the number of "jobs", that will be created by that spending (including the original job created).

Carbon and Emery Counties
Categories and Industry Sectors Multipliers
Agriculture and Forestry Support Activities NA
Manufacturing and Industrial Buildings 1.59
Other New Construction 1.68
Water, Sewer, and Pipeline Construction 1.6
Total Value Added  
Agriculture and Forestry Support Activities NA
Manufacturing and Industrial Buildings 1.84
Other New Construction 1.76
Water, Sewer, and Pipeline Construction 2.09
Average (Mean) Output Multiplier 1.76
Agriculture and Forestry Support Activities NA
Manufacturing and Industrial Buildings 1.66
Other New Construction 1.65
Water, Sewer, and Pipeline Construction 1.89
Average (Mean) Employment Multiplier 1.73

An analysis of the Emery County economy was completed based on 2007 data from an extensive list of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics. This form of analysis will be repeated at regular intervals in order to track changes that occur in the local economy in the years after the new system becomes operational. It is important to note that the improved irrigation system is just one of many factors contributing to changes in the local economy.

The objective of the Colorado River Salinity Control Program is the generation of downstream benefits in terms of water quality. These benefits come in the form of both compliance with treaties with Mexico and reduction of salinity-caused damages in California. The Bureau of Reclamation produces periodic reports detailing both the costs associated with salinity in the Colorado River and the benefits gained through implementation of the Salinity Program upstream.

The most recent report for 2005 states, "The primary negative impact of the salt concentration is seen as economic. Present economic damages using the 2004 salinity levels at Imperial Dam have been modeled between $306 and $312 million per year depending on the conditions used. Projected 2025 salinity levels show damage estimates increasing to $471 million per year without additional WQIP projects being implemented. With additional WQIP projects implemented, the annual damages decline by $76 million or approximately $187 per ton of salt removed." The figure below shows the estimated distribution of these damages among various water users.

Distribution of downstream salinity damages, 2004 (Source: Bureau of Reclamation Quality of Water Colorado River Basin Progress Report No. 22)

graphic: Estimated Salinity Damages 2004

Bureau of Reclamation Quality of Water - Colorado River Basin Progress Report No. 22  [PDF]

In 1990, the combined on-farm and off-farm costs for the Huntington-Cleveland portion of the Price-San Rafael Project were projected to be approximately $16 million, which is just over 22 percent of the total Price-San Rafael project cost of $72.5 million (1989 dollars).

Last Updated: 3/17/17