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State Rep. Evan Olsen, R-Young Ward, wants Gov. Norm Bangerter to declare a three-year moratorium on groundwater development in Cache County while a study is made.

Olsen and 42 other people have filed a protest with the state engineer and Utah Division of Water Rights against Logan's application to drill two wells in the western part of the city.Olsen contended Tuesday that new underground water development could threaten supplies for owners of existing wells.

Olsen, who has a well on his dairy farm, said wells are the only source of water in rural areas for those not connected to city water lines.

Olsen, who said the filing Monday was done as a private citizen and not as a legislator, said he will protest if the Bear River Water Conservancy District follows through with plan to apply to develop up to six wells in the county.

The Young Ward farmer is co-chairman of the state's Bear River Task Force and he says it was at an April 9 task force meeting that he learned the governor has discretionary authority to reserve unappropriated water for future public use.

"I will urge the governor to use that authority to protect existing water rights that could be threatened if the state engineer approves more applications and subsequently gives the go ahead for additional groundwater depletions," he said.

Robert Fotheringham, area engineer for the division of water rights, said the number of applications to appropriate water has been growing, with North Logan and Nibley filing applications in recent weeks.

Olsen said the study by the Geological Survey in cooperation with the Utah Division of Water Resources was started last fall and will assess current water conditions, better define the ground water system and analyze the effects of additional groundwater withdrawals.

"Until the study is completed, I think water development should be limited to small residential wells," he said.