clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


All five members of the Utah congressional delegation have joined in backing at least substantially a revised re-authorization bill for the Central Utah Project.

The measure would make major changes in a reauthorization bill introduced last year by Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah.New authorization is needed for the CUP because increased costs threaten to push the project beyond limits set by Congress before the project is completed in about seven years.

The new CUP bill will be discussed in Salt Lake City Monday at a hearing before a House Interior subcommittee. The session will start at 9 a.m. in the State Office Building.

The 1987 bill would have added about $800 million to the cost ceiling for the CUP. The revised bill trims that to just under $600 million, the delegation said in a joint statement.

One of the hottest issues of contention in negotiations involving Utah environmentalists and farmers was irrigation. The joint statement said the five members agreed to keep most of the irrigation features to fulfill a "23-year commitment to farmers in central Utah to provide them with a reliable source of water during future drought years." Irrigation features of the CUP have been generally delayed in favor of municipal water, the members said.

Eliminated from the bill as "wasteful and unnecessary" were the proposed Deep Creek pumping plant, North Fork pumping plant, Bjorkman Hollow Dam and Mosida pumping plant, canals and laterals.

Added to the bill were rehabilitation of the existing Farnsworth Canal and Bottle Hollow Dam on the Ute reservation.

The bill will contain provisions to settle a dispute over Strawberry Valley between conservationists and water users.

Still at issue is an entitlement proposal that would cost $15 million a year for unspecified environmental purposes after the CUP is completed. Owens supports it, but all four Republicans are opposed.

Garn and the other Republican members said the provision would unnecessarily raise power rates for users of Colorado River Basin water.

The Republicans said they would back creation of a temporary commission, proposed by Owens, to oversee completion of CUP environmental components, but only if its scope were limited and it had no right to condemn property, including water rights.

The Republicans also oppose an Owens proposal to have the National Academy of Sciences reassess management policy for water storage and power generation vs. fish and wildlife in the Colorado Basin.

Owens said he wants to see a commission continue after the project is finished to carry out environmental mitigation. He said also that he backs a fish and wildlife fund to be paid for out of power revenues.

Despite their disagreements, all five Utahns said they would work together to complete the project.

"We will continue to emphasize our areas of common interest and bipartisan support because completing this project is in the best interests of the people of our state," they said.