Utah's congressional delegation had no support for Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, when he introduced a bill in July to add $430 million to the Central Utah Project for facilities in eastern Utah.
But Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, later came up with a similar bill that asks for $515 million for water projects for eastern Utah's Ute Indian Tribe that was the subject of a Tuesday House subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C. And Nielson believes compromises can be worked out to get a single bill through Congress for eastern Utah water development."I think there's enough similarity in the two bills that they can be married," Nielson told the Deseret News after the hearing. While particulars of Nielson's $430 million bill and Owens' $515 million bill differ somewhat, "we both moved a little bit," Nielson said.
Owens said he presented the bill in the House at the request of the Utes and believes a lot of work is ahead to refine the measure so the federal government can adequately compensate the tribe for water development projects promised in 1965. The first priority, Owens believes, is getting approval for a CUP bill being pushed by the entire Utah delegation, which would raise the spending ceiling for the Bonneville Unit.
Nielsen said he had concerns about a separate bill diverting attention from the CUP bill. "Initially I had little support for the idea since many thought that a separate bill would detract from the effort to increase the ceiling on the CUP."
But the atmosphere has changed somewhat. "The Utah delegation is united in support of the bill's objective," he said.