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FEDERAL CUTS MAY AFFECT WATER QUALITY IN UTAH

SHARE FEDERAL CUTS MAY AFFECT WATER QUALITY IN UTAH

Federal budget cutbacks in water pollution control will set Utah back millions of dollars.

The planned cuts in revenue will mean a loss of more than $13 million by 1994. As a result, the state has to procure additional revenues from its general fund, a state health official warned."For Utah to continue with the existing water quality control, the state will have to come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars every year," State Health Director Suzanne Dandoy said. "That's a considerable amount of money that the state needs to make up."

Figures from the Utah Bureau of Water Pollution Control show Utah will need $246,000 by fiscal 1992, $450,000 in fiscal 1994 and more than $850,000 by fiscal 1996. According to Bureau Director Don Ostler, the figures are conservative. He said soon federally loaned monies will be depleted, and Utah will be facing an "alarming problem."

"Water quality programs in this state are extremely important," he said. "If money doesn't exist for high standards to be maintained, the Utah community is in serious trouble.

"The last thing needed at this time are these cutbacks," he added. "Drinking water is probably the most vital resource in this state. That means that our lakes have to stay clean and that adequate revenue will have to be provided somehow. That's all there is to it."

The loss of revenue is a result of attempts to balance the federal budget. In recent years federal monies for state wastewater management have consistently been slashed in an effort to bring the federal deficit down.

Utah's budget for loaned water programs is $3 million. During the next several years, the federally subsidized portion - about $1.1 million - will be deleted.

"You take that out of our treatment program and it will have a crippling effect," Ostler said. "This is the biggest threat to water quality I've seen in more than 20 years. It affects our ability to regulate and monitor water pollution."

Ostler said the bureau is under pressure by the Federal Clean Water Act to maintain federal standards for reducing toxicity in public waterways, and the slashes in revenue present an added burden.

The federal budget cuts for wastewater management will be addressed in the next legislative session.