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Water-policy plan is in works

After a three-day conference this week in Salt Lake City on ensuring long-term water supplies in the West that are threatened by global climate change, members of the Western States Water Council plan to release a list of water policy recommendations to the governors of 18 states.

The list could include recommendations on how to deal with climate change, new policy on how to link researchers with state and local water bosses, and ways to get more money for research and implementation of water plans.

"We're going to try to influence policy," Duane Smith, chairman of the water council, said Friday at the close of the conference. "We're not going to sit here and just have a report that academicians think is such a great thing."

No time frame was given for release of the report. During this week's conference, information was gathered from attendees about possible changes in water policy. Conferencegoers included state, city and county leaders, as well as federal-agency and business leaders.

The subject of climate change was discussed during break-out sessions during the conference and also Friday during a closing brain-storm session. One attendee said he was concerned that water council leaders weren't listening to concerns from researchers about pollution and a warming Earth.

Smith said the council was aware of research about climate change, and his group would seek to push policy to link researchers with policy makers on state and local levels in order to foster changes.

"How can we provide a clearing-house for science that actually brings that into the water manager's scenario?" Smith asked. "In our recommendations, we will try to deal with that."

Smith said the 18 governors who will receive the recommendations are members of the Western Governor's Association, which appoints members to the water council.