Cutler Reservoir levels to be drawn down for maintenance beginning Oct. 20

BENSON — Operators of the Cutler hydroelectric project will lower the level of the Cutler reservoir beginning Monday, Oct. 20 to complete maintenance on the dam that was begun last year. The utility is required by federal regulators to perform the maintenance work.

The low water levels may extend through the end of the year, and should begin to come back up in January, 2015. The project schedule anticipates that reservoir elevations will be returned to normal by mid-January of 2015, although project conditions encountered may alter this schedule. The required maintenance involves completing the coating work on the control gates used to manage high water or spill flows from the dam. The reservoir levels must be lowered 15-20 feet to provide full access to the spill gates.

Signs have been posted at main access points, notifying recreational users of the work, and advising them to be alert to water hazards that may be exposed as the reservoir levels decline.

“Fall is the best time of year to perform this required maintenance to balance wildlife and waterfowl habitat needs with irrigation delivery requirements and recreation use of the reservoir,” said Eve Davies, principal scientist for PacifiCorp Energy, which owns and operates the plant. “That’s why we’ve scheduled the drawdown a couple of weeks after the opening of duck hunting season.” PacifiCorp Energy is the utility’s business unit that supplies the electricity Rocky Mountain Power distributes to customers in Utah.

She urged those who use Cutler reservoir to be observant as new hazards may become exposed, and areas that are usually accessible may become inaccessible within hours during the initial period of the drawdown. Lowering of the reservoir is expected to continue through approximately October 25, and perhaps longer as conditions are evaluated.

“It is likely that access to some or all of the Cutler boat ramps may be affected and potentially eliminated during the drawdown,” Davies said. She also noted that removing any artifacts that may be exposed by the drawdown is illegal and will be prosecuted.

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