Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink. . . The Ancient Mariner.
To look at Utah on a map, it would appear there is plenty of water. But when it comes to usable, drinkable water, Utah doesn't have nearly enough to go around.In fact, there is mounting evidence that Utah's growth rate is far outstripping the state's ability to provide culinary water and adequate waste-water treatment. And old systems are wearing out before new ones even reach the planning stage.
Water, and the state's lack of it, will be a key issue facing the 1989 Legislature. Not only has the Energy, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee placedwater at the top of its agenda, but Gov. Bangerter has it near the top os his.
"Water development is economic development," said Rep. Tom Christensen, co-chairman of the legislative committee. "Everywhere in the state, water needs are critical."
In fact, the lack of developed water resources has hurt the state in attracting new business. And until the state establishes a long-range program to deal with water needs, economic development could be stifled, Christensen said.
But who's to pay?
Water experts say more than $300 million in critical water projects need to be done as soon as possible. Many Utah cities and towns are violating state and federal health standards and face punitive action if corrective measures aren't taken.
The legislative committee has gone on record recommending a $50 million general obligation bond to start work on the most critical culinary and waste-water projects.
But that bonding package may not sit well with Bangerter, who has his own $50 million bonding package that does not include water projects. There is no way the governor will support a $100 million bonding package, said Bud Scruggs, Bangerter's chief of staff.
But he is willing to talk about water projects.
"He has seen the (water bond) proposal and it is a very good program," said Scruggs. "There is not a bad project on the list. But the problem is the same one that most households face: How much do you want to saddle yourself with debt payments?"
Bangerter places a high priority on water development, placing it right behind the development of the state's transportation system, said Scruggs.
"He is aware of the need for long-range planning, and with the growth in the state, natural resources, including waste water, will be a high priority,"Scruggs said.
Bangerter has set aside $6 million in his proposed 1989-90 budget for water projects. But no one, including Bangerter, believes that will be enough. "It's a starting point for discussion," Scruggs said.
"Bonding legislation for water projects is going to receive a lot of attention this coming session," predicted Christensen. "No one is questioning the needs are there."
Water levels on the Provo River and the development of water resources on the Bear River--the last major undeveloped source of fresh water in the state--are two projects certain to receive a lot of attention in 1989.