Pumping more water than is being recharge the aquifer, also called water mining, is causing earth fissures identified in Enoch and Quichapa Lake, the Utah Geological Survey reported to the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District

The study commissioned by the CICWCD to the UGS came from a request by Enoch City officials to investigate a feature affecting a new subdivision in the northern part of that community on May 5, 2009. Enoch City Public Works Director Earl Gibson thought the massive land crack might be an active fault. UGS geologists responded to the request and subsequently mapped a 2.4-mile-long, generally north-south-trending earth fissure that had formed along the west side of the Enoch Graben area, an empty, 400-lot subdivision. The affected subdivision is near the south end of the fissure and has formed
in basin-fill deposits, crossed several undeveloped lots and has cracked and vertically displaced asphalt concrete street surfaces, concrete curb and gutter and sidewalks, the UGS study said.

An inspection using a pipeline camera revealed that the flow direction of a sewer line crossing the fissure had been reversed and that it was no longer possible to gravity drain sewage from the subdivision. At the time of the inspection, the streets, curb and gutter, and underground utilities in the subdivision were less than 18-months-old, the UGS study said.

“Once the water is removed, it is removed permanently so the community should be concerned because this issue involves a scarce resource and will become more expensive the further you have to go to get water and will be less and less available,” said UGS Geologist Bill Lund. “The second main issue is the land subsidence and earth fissures that are encroaching in the built environment, and when that happens, you have problems. Damages nationwide from fissures are $125 million annually.”