IVINS – One of the oldest reservoirs in Washington County is getting a facelift and is expected to be ready for swimmers by the time warm weather returns.
The Ivins Reservoir, which was built more than 75 years ago, is located off of Highway 91 on the border between Ivins and the Shivwits Reservation for the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah. Years of neglect and fluctuating water levels have left the area unattractive and unused.
The renovation project that has been in the works for several years is the product of a collaborative effort between Ivins City, the Washington County Water Conservancy District, the Shivwits Band of Paiutes and the Ivins Irrigation Company.
So far, a 3-acre swimming area and beach have been built, with a causeway separating the new swimming hole from the rest of the reservoir. The reservoir is used as irrigation storage, so the water level fluctuates.
“It’ll be ready to use by the time the weather warms up enough for it to be interesting to people,” Ivins Mayor Chris Hart said.
Chemical toilets will also be in place this spring.
Eventually, amenities will include a parking lot, fishing and nonmotorized boating, picnic areas with shade pavilions, walking trails; and a wildlife refuge. These will have to wait for more city funding, which is not in the budget right now, Hart said.
“It’ll be (just) a swimming hole unless we get some other funding sources to help us go further than that.”
The city has already spent $100,000 getting the beach area groomed and the sandy beach built. Thousands of cubic yards of sand were brought in from the Shivwits Reservation and the Gunlock area.
The causeway separating the swimming area from the rest of the reservoir cost $200,000, Hart said, because it had to be built to state dam safety standards.
“It has to function right,” Hart said, “because when people are using it, you can’t have it collapsing, even if it’s collapsing into another body of water.”
As far as a timetable for completion of all the planned amenities, Hart said it depends on whether the city can get funding from the county or from recreation grant funding.
The Washinton County Water Conservancy District expects to begin doing its part in January, District Manager Ron Thompson said.
“We’re going to put in a water line that will go right into that pool area,” Thompson said, “… so when that’s full it will flow back into the main reservoir.”
This will enhance the recreation by keeping the swimming area continually supplied with fresh water from Gunlock Reservoir.
The project will not consume any additional water, rather it will just funnel fresh water into the swimming area first; the water will then flow into the main reservoir to be used for irrigation, as it has in the past.
“Now I need to get some scouts out there and make a bunch of Eagle projects on some of those trails,” Thompson said.
“It’s amazing how much trail a bunch of little 12 to 14-year-old boys can put together when they get their minds made up to do it.”
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