Planned Heber Valley LDS Temple may need to pump out a million gallons of groundwater daily

The two-spired, three-story, 88,000-square-foot structure still awaits a building permit.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Rendering of the Heber Valley Utah Temple.

While a groundbreaking ceremony has already happened for the proposed Heber Valley Temple, and Wasatch County has changed dark sky regulations for the edifice, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints still hasn’t been cleared to build the structure.

Many in the area have praised the news of the future temple, while others have concerns the two-spired, three-story, 88,000-square-foot building will block their views and add to the light pollution.

More recently, resident Alissa Haynes said she and other neighbors have concerns about water. Her questions formed after she read a church-funded study suggesting the proposed 200-foot-tall building site is in a flood plain and will require “dewatering,” or pumping out groundwater, so the area doesn’t flood with a multistory new building on top.

The study suggested the plan could require wells almost 40 feet deep, capable of pumping 500 to 700 gallons of water per minute. That would mean from 720,000 to 1,008,000 gallons per day. The study says builders would need to do that for four to eight weeks to prepare the ground.

After that first “dewatering” phase, the study says the flow rate should decrease dramatically, but it will still need to pump 150 to 250 gallons per minute, or 200,000 to 350,000 gallons a day, to keep the ground dry enough.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson speaks at the Heber Valley Temple groundbreaking Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.

“Our concern,” Haynes said, “is all of that going into the creek, then it’s going downstream and into the Provo River and then eventually down into the canyon. So it is not benefiting the Heber Valley for the, you know, the residents in Heber Valley, or for what’s been removed from the aquifer or the groundwater.”

In late July, county staffers asked church planners for details, including how it will counteract the upward force of water in underground aquifers.

Core Architecture, in charge of designing the temple, said it will reveal the design for a deep foundation during the building permit process. The church public affairs office declined KPCW’s requests for interviews about the dewatering study.

Read the full KPCW story.

This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations that aims to inform readers across the state.