$100M project aims to upgrade Deer Creek dam, protect against quagga mussels

Jul 11, 2023, 10:04 PM | Updated: Jul 12, 2023, 2:16 pm

DEER CREEK RESERVOIR, Utah — A $100 million project to upgrade infrastructure at the dam began earlier this summer, and dam managers said Tuesday the hope was to also protect against a future invasive threat.

Jeff Budge, general manager of the Provo River Water Users Association, said crews planned to install a specialized coating around the existing intake and a new intake to be constructed that would help to reduce the impact of any possible quagga mussel population in the years or decades to come.

“There’s always the concern that someone will not use the proper precautions with their boat and bring quagga mussels in from Lake Powell or somewhere else that they may have been,” Budge told KSL TV. “In the future, if there is an infestation, we’ve at least got that behind us and it will help.”

Budge said the reservoir and dam were currently quagga mussel-free.

“Deer Creek did have a quagga mussel scare in that they found quagga mussel DNA one time in a sample,” Budge said. “We went through a whole three-year process of testing and research to make sure that they weren’t there, and so we are now off the suspect water body list.”

The project’s initial and primary goal, according to Budge, was to update the intake, guard gates and valves while creating a secondary intake that will aid with maintenance and provide an alternate route for water to flow back into the Provo River.

“We’ll just add a new intake at a little higher elevation in the reservoir,” Budge said. “We’ll have the opportunity of taking water from two different strata in the reservoir to feed downstream.”

Crews planned to employ a massive barge on the reservoir to stage underwater construction near the dam in the months to come.

With the ongoing work, managers once again cautioned visitors on Facebook that Sailboat Beach would be closed through March 2026 to allow the movement of heavy equipment and machinery in and out of the reservoir.

“If you are recreating in the area, please do not cross into the area sectioned off by buoys, and please visit the other beaches open for public use at Deer Creek,” the post advised.

The massive project hasn’t been easy for visitors to miss during their trips to Deer Creek Reservoir.

Larry Kolling said Tuesday evening that he had noticed a large crane and other construction equipment around the shoreline.

“It’s a big task,” he acknowledged. “If it’s good for the environment, and it saves the lake and helps us later on — you know, helps those generations — then you know what, use those taxpayer dollars, man.”

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$100M project aims to upgrade Deer Creek dam, protect against quagga mussels