IVINS – A celebration was held Thursday in honor of the oldest reservoir in Washington County. Hot dogs and cake were the order of the day at the 100th birthday party of the Ivins Reservoir, which has been given a face-lift in recent years with recreational and access improvements.
A crowd was gathered at Fire Lake Park at Ivins Reservoir, as a part of Ivins’ annual Heritage Days celebration. Ivins mayor Chris Hart was on hand to give a brief history lesson concerning the reservoir followed by leading the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday.”
See video in media player above featuring Ivins Mayor Chris Hart.
Work on the reservoir started in 1909 and was completed in 1918. Its purpose was to be a place to store irrigation water in the winter for later use by Ivins and Santa Clara residents. The water for the reservoir originally came from a diversion on the Santa Clara River via an 8-mile long canal settlers carved out of the landscape.
The reservoir has been used for both irrigation and recreation for much of its existence.
“When we were little we thought it was a big lake and it was tons of fun,” event attendee Anreta Frei said, adding her grandchildren routinely visit the reservoir and continue to enjoy it.
Ron Thompson, general manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District, said the Ivins Reservoir was critical in the early development of the western part of the county.
“This lake has been here a long time and provided critical water needs, particularly for the community of Ivins,” he said.
Both Hart and Thompson called the reservoir a testament to the sacrifice and hardiness of the people who settled Ivins and the surrounding area.
“The vision behind it and the construction of it are great stories reflecting the dogged determination, sacrificing spirit and tireless work ethic of those who preceded us here,” Hart previously stated in the city’s August newsletter.
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In 2008, an agreement was struck between the water district, Ivins, the Shivwits Band of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Kayenta developer Terry Marten and two irrigation companies to improve the area around the reservoir for recreational use.
The decision to improve the recreational use of the reservoir was initially stymied by irrigation use during the summer, however, as it would cause the water level to lower. The issue was solved when a part of the reservoir was cut off from the main body of water by a levee in 2015, creating a swimming lagoon.
The lagoon is fed by a steady stream of water from Gunlock Reservoir that provides a fresh supply of water every week, Hart said. This allows the swimming lagoon to remain full all summer long while also feeding water into the main reservoir via a spillway at the levee’s northern end.
Surrounding the swimming lagoon are sandy beaches that were created by importing 7,000 cubic yards of sand to prepare the beach and taking out 12,000 cubic yards of the native soils. The Shivwits Band donated a majority of the sandy material that was imported for the beach.
This, along with a paved roadway and parking lot, helped build the foundation of what became Fire Park at Ivins Reservoir. The park opened in May 2016.
Read more: Fire Lake Park opens at Ivins Reservoir
Work on the park is about two-thirds complete, Hart said. Future improvements include a pavilion, a picnic area with shade trees, a trail around the shoreline of the main reservoir and other amenities.
As a part of the park sits within the Shivwits Reservation, the band retains rights to build a concession for renting canoes and paddleboats.
The name “Fire Lake” also came from the Shivwits name for the reservoir.
“We would be remiss not to recognize the contribution of the Native Americans to this project,” Thompson said. “It would not have happened without their support.”
Ivins Reservoir has a capacity of 778 acre feet of water and has been overseen by the Washington County Water Conservancy District since 2004.
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