The future of the Central Utah Project is good says Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah.

Garn told officials attending the annual meeting of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems that a funding authorization bill should gain congressional passage early in the upcoming session.Garn said he's optimistic because the bill's failure in the waning hours of the past session was due largely to congressional rules governing the legislative process. He said those rules change dramatically in the closing days of the session and it is possible for one senator or representative, in this case Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., to block action on a piece of legislation.

With rules back to normal, Garn sees little opposition to the compromise bill, which has gained backing from the Bush administration and environmentalists.

Garn said 23 senators with water projects of their own at stake, are fully committed to the bill's passage. The two major stumbling blocks in the Senate are gone. Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., traditionally a strong opponent of all Western water legislation, has thrown his support behind the bill, and Sen. Pete Wilson, R-Calif., will be gone, having won the California governorship.

The bill won passage in the House this past session but failed in the Senate when Miller insisted it be tied to water reclamation reform legislation. That move effectively prevented the bill from reaching the Senate floor for a formal vote.

Garn said reclamation reform will also receive congressional attention, but he believes it will be handled separately from the CUP legislation.

Garn said that the CUP bill is not everything he would have liked but appears to be the best possible compromise package capable of winning passage.