As the last battles are being fought to facilitate the completion of the Central Utah Project, a new state water plan is being unveiled to address the state's future water needs.
Larry Anderson and Paul Gillette of the Division of Water Resources told a legislative interim committee Wednesday that state officials have circulated 1,400 copies of a draft of a state water plan that has been in the development stages for three years.The plan addresses everything from the development of new water supplies to the handling of wastewater and details extensive plans for more than a dozen significant water-development or water-management issues.
The document is timely because the era of federal participation in the state's water development is nearing an end, Gillette said. "We do believe there won't be any major funding after the CUP."
Even CUP funding is taking a departure from traditional federal financing.
Anderson said the water plan was scrutinized during 18 public meetings around the state in March and April. Some people responded to state presentations by saying the plan ignored certain issues or didn't explain them clearly, Anderson said, but there were very few suggestions for significant changes to the draft.
The needs of each basin in the state have not been developed in the plan, Gillette said. The Bear River basin will be studied first because of intense interest there in developing Bear River resources.
Gillette said the plan makes no attempt to alter state water law, and it stresses multiple use. "Single-use facilities, such as wilderness, should be minimized."
State officials also reported that efforts to finance the CUP's irrigation system include a local cost-sharing requirement and an environmental mitigation stipulation that will cost the state much more than did CUP features already completed.
A financing device being negotiated between water and public power officials would take public power revenues that are already committed to repaying irrigation development costs and steer the money toward the $280 million to $300 million irrigation feature.
"I don't want to shock you," Division of Natural Resources Director Dee Hansen told legislators Wednesday, "but we'll be coming back to you for some of the money."
If the financing plan works, about $80 million in local money would be needed to finance construction. An additional $21.5 million would be needed over the next 10 years for environmental mitigation. The environmental money would have to be raised before the construction money could be spent.
Hansen said he hopes the CUP's state sponsor, the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, can raise the $80 million, but he said the Legislature would have to provide the environmental funds.
Don Christiansen, conservancy district general manager, told the legislative committee the irrigation water is essential to the development of central Utah, especially Juab County, even though the water would cost $12,000 to $24,000 for each acre of land it would irrigate - and though all but the $9.40 farmers could afford to pay per acre-foot would have to be paid for through subsidies from public-power revenues.
Hansen said he does not know what would happen to the construction money from public power if the state can't come up with the matching environmental funds it must spend concurrent with construction.