Salt Lake officials lobbied on Capitol Hill this week to get out from under what they said was the $2.5 million cost of providing water to augment the stream flow of the Provo River.
Willie Stoler, City Council chairman, said after meeting with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that the city is "united" in wanting to see the federal Bureau of Outdoor Recreation buy water for the Provo River upstream if it wants to boost the flow. Stoler said the city is agreeable to making last year's arrangements to help the river, but does not feel it should continue to bear those costs in the future.He said the group will meet with Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, seeking his agreement to change the way the water is supplied. An Owens aide said that since the congressman helped work out the Provo River agreement last year he is not agreeable to changing it now.
Mayor Palmer DePaulis, also in Washington for League of Cities meetings, did not make the Hatch-Stoler session, but Stoler said the mayor wants to see the expense shifted elsewhere.
Salt Lake City loses sales of the water that is passed downstream into Great Salt Lake, and pays the cost of pumping other water upstream, Stoler said.
"This hurts what we can spend on our infrastructure - streets, gutters and sewers," Stoler said.
He said he thought a decision on the water cost would be made "at the highest levels in Washington," probably by the Interior secretary.