Congressional approval of a scaled-down Central Utah Project would eliminate federal funding of CUP irrigation and drainage plans, but could provide as much as $15 million for recreation development and wildlife mitigation for areas like Utah Lake, Congressman Wayne Owens said Thursday.
Owens, speaking from Salt Lake City via phone to members of the Utah Lake Planning Advisory Group, said several million of that amount would be used on such projects as stream mitigation and Utah Lake boat ramp improvements. In addition, money would go toward completing the Jordan River Parkway, development of which was idled last year because of lack of funding.Extension of sewer and water lines to the Lindon boat marina probably would not be included. "I don't think we could work that one in," he told members of the advisory committee, which was formed by mandate from Gov. Norm Bangerter.
Owens, D-Utah, expressed optimism about putting federal money to good use but seemed less certain the proposed CUP spending bill would clear congressional hurdles. He said the new bill, however, is a good compromise despite ongoing opposition from the Reagan administration and public power groups.
Of the original bill, he said, "We cannot get Congress to do it."
Fears that the original $754 million spending bill would be killed by Congress sparked Utah's congressional delegation to slash its request to $370 million, which would be used to complete municipal and industrial water supply portions of the CUP.
"It's intolerable not to complete this project," Owens said. He said passage of the CUP bill is the most important legislative project he can complete this year.
Owens said he is concerned that of the $1.2 billion spent so far on the CUP, only $10 million has been allotted for environmental mitigation. "That's grossly disproportionate to what should be spent," he said.
By killing several less important portions of the CUP, Owens said, about $125 million will be redirected for improving fish and wildlife habitat.
"We redirected that into genuine repairs," he said.
Under the latest proposal, authorization to spend the $125 million would be taken from the Bureau of Reclamation - whose 30 percent to 40 percent overhead costs constitute what Owens called a "great waste" - and turned over to a locally appointed committee.
Owens said the state has to look for private dollars to fund Diamond Fork Power Plant and irrigation features of the project, which would be constructed by the Central Utah Water Conservancy District. According to the latest version of the CUP funding bill, revenues from the power plant would be used to construct irrigation and drainage facilities.
Owens said the water conservancy district likely would have to bond for about $200 million to fund irrigation projects and would retire the bonds with profits from the sale of power to the Colorado River Storage Project.
As part of the compromise, he said, "We dropped the bird refuge (proposed for Utah Lake) out in negotiations."