Small towns, big projects – Sterling funded for $900K, Mayfield for $700K to redo Springs
By Suzanne Dean
Two small towns have started construction on big culinary water projects.
Both Sterling and Mayfield are redeveloping their culinary springs with funding from Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants (ECWAG). Local contractors submitted the low bids on both projects.
ECWAG is a program set up by USDA Rural Development to help communities with populations under 10,000 improve culinary water sources that were depleted by the western drought, especially in 2016.
Sterling, which has a population of about 275, is redeveloping two springs, replacing a pipeline between the springs and burying a pipe that carries water from both springs to the town water tank.
The total project cost is $900,000. ECWAG is covering $828,000. The town got a Community Development Block Grant for $42,000 and put up $30,000 of its own money.
Last fall, it accepted a bid of $790,000 from Lamar Barton Excavating of Ephraim for the redevelopment work. The rest of the budget has gone for planning, preparing the ECWAG grant and engineering.
Mayfield, with a population of about 500, is working on five springs, two near the mouth of 12-Mile Canyon, two about a mile up the canyon and one in a side canyon called South Hollow.
The total projected cost of the Mayfield work is $720,000. The town got a planning grant for $13,500 from the Utah Division of Drinking Water and $700,000 from ECWAG. The town itself is covering the rest.
The low bid on construction work was $429,576 submitted by Madsen Excavating, owned by Mike Madsen of Mayfield.
Barton Excavating started working on the two Sterling springs in late August, but had to suspend work after the big snowfall over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to Mayor Randall Cox.
Most of the work so far has been on a source known as Upper Forbush Spring in Funks Canyon, roughly east of Palisade State Park.
The spring was washed out during spring runoff in 1983, the year Utah as a whole was hit hard by flooding. It hasn’t been used since. One of the main goals of the project is to put it back in service.
The project also includes getting nearby Lower Forbush Spring producing again. Cox says the spring went dry last year.
Wall believes water that used to come up from Lower Forbush is now running underneath the original collection box and manhole.
There used to be a road between the two springs, but it hasn’t been maintained since 1983. “We had to clear it and open it up,” Wall says.
At the time construction was suspended, pipe was laying along the road ready to replace the pipeline that used bring water from the upper spring to the lower one.
There’s another pipe that carries water from both springs from the lower spring site down the canyon a little way to the Sterling town water tank. As part of the project, that pipeline will be buried.
“It’s exposed for about 100 feet, which makes it kind of vulnerable,” Wall says.
In Mayfield, work is underway right now. “They’re pushing snow,” says Tyler Faddis, project engineer with the Manti office of Jones and Demille Engineering. “As long as they can make it up the canyon with equipment, they’ll continue working.”
So far, crews have mostly worked on the North Order Canyon Spring. That’s one of the two springs that are about 1 mile from the bottom of 12-Mile Canyon. The workers have been “perfecting the collection box,” Faddis says.
Before work started, the flow from the spring was “just a trickle,” Faddis says. Now it’s up to 10 gallons per minute.
Winter is the low time of year for spring flows, notes Garrick Willden, head engineer in Manti for Jones and Demille. Next spring, the flow should increase.
Willden says it’s too early to tell how much water the Mayfield springs will produce after they are fully repaired.
“Every spring is different,” he says. “Until you’re in there digging, you can’t tell.”
But he is confident the project will help give Mayfield a reliable supply of quality drinking water.
“They’ve been relying heavily on wells,” he says of the town. And the well water is fairly high in nitrates.
Once the project is complete, Mayfield won’t have to run its well pump as much, Willden says. And when the town does use well water, it will be able to mix it with the spring water to reduce the nitrate concentration in water delivered to customers.