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Pumping too much water is sinking Cedar Valley

Cedar City (Salt Lake Tribune) » Since 1939, the Cedar Valley spreading west and north of Cedar City has dropped 100 feet and the only way to stop or slow the process is replenish the underlying aquifer with at least as much water as is being discharged through pumping.

That was one of the statistics the Utah Geological Survey delivered to the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District at its board meeting Thursday night in Cedar City.

William Lund, senior scientist with the agency's southern Utah office, said the practice of overpumping causes noticeable fissures in the ground that sink all the way to the water table and allow pollutants to seep into the water. Most of the water is now used for agriculture, but officials are concerned about polluting the water source should it be needed for other uses.

"They start as a hairline crack and fast erode into gullies," said Lund of the fissures.

He noted a fissure first noticed in 1960 northeast of Enoch has grown 2.25 miles long and has snaked its way into a subdivision where home construction was set to begin.

Although only one structure was built and affected by the fissure, it has disrupted the infrastructure that had already been completed, including cracking curbs and gutters, streets and the sewer system, which now runs backward.

Lund said it is the only location in Utah he is aware of that has been damaged by a fissure.

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