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Impact of Mountain Accord Tunnels on Water Rights

A Friend of the Park Rag recently pointed out something about the Mountain Accord that we hadn’t heard discussed… the impact on water and water rights. Evidently one of the things known by those mining the Wasatch is that the mountains are very “wet.” That means that a large amount of water is stored in the mountains. The water that does not runoff is stored in the mountains and eventually finds its way through the rock and comes out through springs, months or years later.

What the miners report is that when you dig tunnels in the Wasatch, you encounter a great deal of water. When those tunnels are built, they likely displace the water and potentially change how the water is stored in the Wasatch. There are at least two impacts to this.

First, how much water is lost in process of building and maintaining the tunnels? Is water that comes into contact with the tunnel treated as sewer water and lost to treatment facilities? Is it in effect “wasted water.”

Second, if a tunnels displaces water that would have belonged to someone (their water rights), how will this be accounted for? Is it a case of eminent domain… just like the Tesoro Pipeline?

We have more research to do to better understand the impacts, but we thought it was a topic worthy of considering since its impact could be so great.


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