The House Interior Committee on Wednesday lifted the cost ceiling of the Central Utah Water Project by $45.2 million - a small fraction of the $750 million Utah's congressmen requested last fall.
The allocation also was only about a third of a stopgap $127 million all five Utah members of Congress decided to ask for Tuesday when larger CUP bills failed to attract the support necessary for passage.The boost would keep municipal water portions of the project going through Sept. 30, 1990 but would shift funds from irrigation sections of the CUP. Under the increase about $150 million could be spent on CUP in 1990, but none of it on irrigation features.
Committee Chairman Rep. Morris K. Udall, D-Ariz., warned CUP backers to rewrite their larger bill and negotiate its features with environmental and power groups before they bring it back next year.
While public power groups withdrew their objections when the Utah members of Congress gave up on a $420 million version of the CUP bill, environmental groups complained this week that the $127 million stopgap would start irrigation features without building fish and wildlife projects they wanted.
Caught between the Scylla of public power and Charybdis of the environment, the Utahns were forced to narrow their sights.
Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, whose larger bill drew heavy opposition from public power, said he was disappointed in the outcome on Wednesday. Although the committee took only a voice vote on the measure, Owens conceded the votes were 40-2 against him.
Rep. Dick Cheney, R-Wyo., offered the amendment to cut the measure to $46 million. Cheney did not offer language cutting another $6 million in non-Utah projects and withheld a provision to require Utah to share in up to two-thirds of the project cost. Cheney, Udall and other committee members noted that other states have paid as much as 40 percent of water project costs, and suggested Utah do likewise.
The five members of Utah's congressional delegation said they plan to press both environmental and power groups for negotiations on a CUP bill between now and January, or possibly before a post-election lame-duck session.