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HOUSE VOTES UNANIMOUSLY TO BACK LEASING WATER SHARES

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Taking its lead from the Growth Summit, the House unanimously voted Monday to support the concept of Utah leasing its unused Colorado River shares.

Sponsored by House Speaker Mel Brown, HCR8 simply offers legislative support for such a concept but does not include any action.The idea of Utah leasing portions of its Colorado River excess isn't new. It was first proposed to the Colorado River Water Users Association years ago. While support of the idea may be high in the House, critics of such a measure say Utah could ultimately sever its ties with other Upper Basin states - including Colorado and Wyoming - if it pursues such action.

All states are protected in their river allotments by the Colorado River Compact. Should one state challenge the compact, it sets a dangerous legal precedent, critics say.

Arguing in support of the leasing concept during the Growth Summit, Department of Natural Resources director Ted Stewart said it presents a way for Utah to protect its ownership of the water and get a return for the water that currently flows down river.

Along with HCR8, the House also supported another Brown-sponsored resolution promoting water conservation and planning by water utilities and public funding agencies, HCR9.