Utah Lake is at the heart of Utah Valley and one of the largest fresh water lakes in the West. It is a large part of our community and is enjoyed for its outdoor recreation opportunities and unique wildlife. It is also a vital part of the area’s watershed storage. 

When we saw that Provo Marina, Utah Lake’s largest access point, required much-needed maintenance to clear out silt deposited by the Provo River and aggravated by low water years, Reed Phillips and I jumped at the opportunity to work on such an interesting project. 

The Provo Marina project included dredging a 100-foot wide channel, four feet deep that would allow for boat clearance from the marina to the lake. 

Our Geneva Rock crew of eight, led by project foreman Bob Manookin, drained the marina of approximately 50 million gallons of lake water and placed a temporary water-filled bladder to dam the water flow, allowing our trucks access to dig out the channel. 

Unfortunately, Utah’s unusual winter presented some extra obstacles. 

“We had a storm with four- and five-foot waves that destroyed the first bladder,” Bob says. 

After extensive research we installed the biggest AquaDam manufactured and used two 40-foot Conex containers to act as wave breaks to protect against ice flows. 

“The ice flows crushed the containers and snapped a one-inch thick cable, pushing the containers against the bladder,” Bob says. “This all happened while we were working, and we had to quickly move our equipment to stop it from being swallowed up by the ice.” 

Eventually, we got approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build an earthen dam behind the last remaining bladder. The earthen dam was built in 48 hours. 

While draining the marina, Bob’s crew had the additional task of finding and saving the endangered June sucker, a prehistoric native fish found only in Utah Lake. State park officials told us that they were doubtful many would be found since it is rarely encountered, having once been on the brink of extinction. 

“We put on waders and used nets in muddy water to look for fish that we were told might not even be there,” Bob says. “We were really surprised that we found 12 fish. The park staff and Division of Natural Resources were really happy.” 

To further complicate things, an unusually warm winter also required us to bring in tons of engineered fill to create temporary roads in the marina to prevent equipment from sinking into the mud. 

To put the roads in place, we first laid down geo-textile fabric and then six feet of engineered fill. After that, excavators would dig the road back up and take whatever we could reclaim for the next road. 

Despite these obstacles, and by partnering with the state, our Geneva Rock team kept the project on schedule. 

The Provo Marina at Utah Lake State Park will reopen in May 2018 — ready for the up- coming boating season.