Provo River Aqueduct
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Provo River Aqueduct

What is it?

The Provo River Aqueduct (PRA) is the name of the now-enclosed Provo Reservoir Canal (PRC), known by many as the Murdock Canal. It runs from the mouth of Provo Canyon in Orem, Utah to the Point of the Mountain near the Utah County/Salt Lake County boundary in Lehi, Utah.

Why was it built?

The Provo River Aqueduct was built to deliver water developed by the Provo River Project and stored in Deer Creek Reservoir to irrigation and municipal water users in Utah and Salt Lake Counties.

When was it built?

The Provo Reservoir Canal was originally built in the early 1900s by the Provo Reservoir Company, and had a capacity of 180 cubic feet per second (cfs). In the 1940s the canal and right-of-way were purchased as part of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Provo River Project, and the PRC was enlarged to a capacity of 550 cfs. Beginning in 2010, the PRC was enclosed into a 126” diameter welded-steel pipe and renamed the Provo River Aqueduct. The PRA now has a capacity of 612 cfs.

How big is it?

The Provo River Aqueduct runs approximately 21.5 miles from the Murdock Diversion in Provo Canyon, northwest along the foothills of the Wasatch Front to the Point of the Mountain near the Utah County/Salt Lake County boundary. The PRA is a spiral-welded steel pipe. Most of the pipe is 126” in diameter. There are sections that are 133”, 126”, 120”, 96” and 84” in diameter, depending on the function.

There are seven siphons along the PRA. The Olmsted Tunnel and Siphon is a 5,200-foot long 96” diameter concrete pipeline which carries water from just below the Murdock Diversion through the mouth of Provo Canyon, under and across the Provo River and connects to the PRA at 800 North in Orem. As the name implies, the Parallel Pipeline is an 84” steel siphon that parallels the Olmsted Siphon and helps improve the hydraulic performance for the whole system. The Pleasant Grove Siphon represents the solution to certain seismic concerns that exist in the foothills of Pleasant Grove City. This siphon is 3,700 feet long and is 126” in diameter. The American Fork Siphon crosses under American Fork Creek and consists of a 1,285-foot long 126” diameter siphon. The Dry Creek Siphon is a 1,300-foot long 126” diameter siphon that crosses under Dry Creek. The reconstruction of State Road 92 resulted in the SR-92 Siphon in 2010. This siphon is 700 feet long and consists of 133” diameter steel pipe. The I-15 Siphon crosses under Interstate 15 and consists of a 1,100-foot long 90” diameter steel-lined concrete siphon near the Point of the Mountain.

Association Lands staff works year-round with jurisdictions and adjacent landowners to license approved uses on the PRA corridor and resolve encroachments or boundary conflicts.

What is the Association’s responsibility?

The Association’s responsibility is to operate and maintain the PRA and the corridor where the PRA resides. This includes the annual filling and startup of the aqueduct. It takes approximately 185 acre feet of water to fill the pipeline each year. At the end of the year, that water is delivered to water users as the pipeline is drained. At startup, all of the operating equipment is inspected and tested for operation. This includes SCADA equipment, valves, controllers, rakes, screens, drains and pumps. All of this equipment is monitored as the irrigation season unfolds. Individual water users work with the Watermaster to schedule when and how much water they want throughout the season. At the end of the season, the PRA is drained and decommissioned for winter. During the winter, portions of the PRA interior are inspected, and preventative maintenance and repairs are made at this time.

A little more information…

The PRA is gravity-fed, meaning no pumps are required to deliver water through the main pipeline. The difference in elevation at the beginning of the canal (the Murdock Diversion in the mouth of Provo Canyon), and the Point of the mountain is only 60 feet. This elevation difference is sufficient to force the water through the canal’s seven siphons. The pipeline itself consists of 32,000 tons of steel coil welded together to make the 21.5 mile aqueduct. There is approximately 186,000 cubic yards of flowable fill concrete supporting the pipe along its 21.5 miles. That’s enough concrete to make a sidewalk 3,587,000 feet long.

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