The potential Warner Valley Reservoir is a long-term project considered by those tasked with securing water for Washington County’s growing population and economy. In 1963, Congress held a hearing on a Bureau of Reclamation plan to construct a power project, dam and canal in Warner Valley. Utah State Senator Wallace Bennett testified that the project would fulfill “a 100-year dream of the residents” of Southern Utah.
That project didn’t come to fruition, but for more than 50 years water planners have continued to evaluate Warner Valley as a future reservoir site.
With the county’s dramatic growth and the possibility that the land would become unavailable due to development, the district recently purchased Warner Valley property to preserve one of the few remaining potential water storage sites in the county. As necessary, the district may continue to acquire land to protect its option for the future.
But, the possible development of the site is a long-term project with no currently foreseeable timeline.
There are several technical and engineering challenges that must be overcome before the project can move forward. For example, the reservoir would store Virgin River water that is unsuitable for culinary and landscape irrigation due to contamination from local natural hot springs. Treatment would require reverse osmosis technology, which is expensive and creates complicated environmental impacts. Its anticipated technology will offer more cost effective and environmentally friendly solutions to reverse osmosis and the other issues associated with Warner Valley Reservoir in the future.
However, even if those issues are addressed, Warner Valley Reservoir would not fulfill the district’s objective of obtaining a reliable second source of water. Therefore, the reservoir remains a project for future generations.