Utah water officials made their annual trek to Congress Thursday to ask for more money.
It was the last time, though, that officials will likely have to plead for the $56.8 million Little Dell Dam project east of Salt Lake City - because funding proposed by the Bush administration for fiscal 1991 should complete it.But requests for the massive Central Utah Project are expected for many more years, as its officials begged Congress to keep it on schedule so that its already far-over-original-budget costs do not rise further because of inflation.
Utah water officials and members of the state's congressional delegation appeared before appropriations subcommittees in both the House and Senate to support Bush administration funding proposals.
Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, said the $9 million proposed for the Little Dell project next year should complete it. House appropriations subcommittee members said they are happy to hear about completion of any project.
Owens said Little Dell will provide better flood control for Salt Lake City and County, and would have prevented turning 1300 South into a sandbagged river during the floods of 1983. It will also provide additional drinking water and some water recreation opportunities.
Roscoe Garrett, chairman of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, which oversees the CUP project, said the proposed $82 million in construction funds for the CUP's Bonneville Unit is needed to keep the large project on schedule.
He said nearly $57 million will be spent to continue construction on the Jordanelle Dam near Heber - a key facility needed to allow delivery of water from eastern Utah to the thirsty Wasatch Front. Also, $21.4 million is scheduled to be spent on work associated with the Diamond Fork Power System.
Garrett said such work "is vitally important in keeping the construction of this project on schedule. As members of this committee are well aware, delays in construction of projects of this magnitude can only result in higher costs."
The CUP was authorized in 1956 and was supposed to cost about $327 million and be completed in the early 1970s. Because of funding and legal delays, it is still years from completion and its pricetag has risen officially to $2 billion - but some estimate it could cost $7 billion.
Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, said, "It makes sense to us that providing enough funds to keep a proj-ect on schedule is more cost effective. Delaying the project has already increased the costs considerably."
He added, "This project is of great importance to the growth and development of my district and the state of Utah."
Owens added, "It is important to note that most of the work necessary to mitigate the environmental impacts of the project is yet to be done.
"This year's appropriation request and those over the remaining years will be critical if we are to achieve the balance between water development and environmental quality that we have promised to the people of Utah for so long."
Also giving brief statements of support for the CUP were Sen. Jake Garn and Rep. Jim Hansen, both R-Utah. Members of the delegation also noted they are pushing a bill to raise debt limits needed to finish irrigation and environmental portions of the project, and to pay the Ute tribe for water rights.