Local officials concerned about the detrimental effect the Central Utah Project could have on Utah County will air those concerns April 3 before Gov. Norm Bangerter and members of the state's congressional delegation.
County Commission Chairman Brent Morris, who calls the CUP a liability to Utah County, said state officials can no longer ignore local concerns. Earlier this month, commissioners, local water users and mayors from Provo and Orem asked Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, to call Monday's meeting, which will begin at 11 a.m. in the commission chambers."It will be interesting to see if the governor and how many federal legislators attend," Morris said. "I think we need to have the policymakers there talking with other policymakers, rather than members of their staffs."
Ron Crittenden, Nielson's state director, said Bangerter and the state's entire congressional delegation have been invited. In addition, State Engineer Bob Morgan, CUP General Manager Don Christiansen, Bureau of Reclamation officials and Strawberry Water Users also have been invited.
"Anybody with water interests in Utah County is invited to come," Crittenden said.
Morris said that if delegation members ignore local concerns, they can expect lawsuits against the CUP.
"I don't want to see litigation," he said. But if CUP officials infringe on local rights by holding back Provo River flow to fill Deer Creek and Jordanelle reservoirs, "then litigation is inevitable. The delegation and the governor have to understand how strongly we feel about that."
According to Robert Fillerup, attorney for the Provo River Canal Commission and the Utah Lake Land Owners Association, there isn't enough water in the Provo River to fill the Jordanelle, under construction near Park City, and simultaneously satisfy downstream demands and rights.
Morris said the Jordanelle threatens Utah County's economic and residential growth. Solutions, he said, must be found.
"That's the main purpose of the meeting: to generate dialogue," he said. "I'm hoping there will be suggestions come out of the meeting. The delegation has to understand that the status quo means litigation."
Fillerup expressed confidence that a congressional challenge of district plans will show the fallacy of building Jordanelle, which will benefit Salt Lake County.
"Utah Lake landowners are going to suffer from the construction of Jordanelle Dam," Fillerup said. He said the CUP is supposed to capture excess Colorado River water - something not found in the Provo River.
The Wallsburg Tunnel, which would have brought Colorado River tributary water from Strawberry Reservoir to Deer Creek Reservoir, was eliminated from CUP plans.
Morris welcomes Rep. Wayne Owens' support for a plan to bring CUP water from the Strawberry Reservoir into Utah County. Owens has asked the Bureau of Reclamation to explore the possibility of releasing water from the reservoir into a tunnel that would carry it to Diamond Fork and release it into the Spanish Fork River.
The proposal calls for the construction of an aqueduct, beginning at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon, that would divert water north into Utah and Salt Lake counties.
Owen's proposal parallels one discussed two weeks ago at the meeting with Nielson.
George Kelly, representing local landowners, said an aqueduct or pipeline that would carry water northward could tap into the proposed CUP irrigation and drainage system, which will carry water from Strawberry Reservoir and the Diamond Fork system via a pipeline through south Utah County, into Juab County and then to the Sevier River Basin.