Gov. Mike Leavitt passed over two environmentalists and picked two developers for two Salt Lake County openings on the board of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District.
Leavitt chose John L. West, a real estate developer, to replace Gerald K. Maloney, who had served on the board since 1984.For the other seat, Leavitt reappointed incumbent Gary Palmer, also a developer.
"I wish they'd have found someone who has more of a background in water conservation. I wish they'd have appointed an environmentalist. We certainly recommended some," said Darrell Men-sel, director of the Utah Outdoor Interests Coordinating Council, a group of nine conservation groups that advises the water district.
Zach Frankel, director of the Utah Rivers Council, said he was "extremely disappointed" with the appointments.
"The district is continuing onward with questionable projects with not a drop of oversight. These appointments maintain this status quo," he said.
The board consists of 17 members who represent 10 counties served by the water district. It oversees the $2 billion Central Utah Project.
Board members mostly are farmers, ranchers, developers and water company officials. None of the board members represents environmental groups.
Don Christiansen, the water district's general manager, contends the board does a solid job of balancing the need for water development with the needs of the environment.
"They do it in as environmentally sensitive a manner as any water board in the United States," said Christiansen.
He pointed to the recent board decision not to build a dam in Monk's Hollow on Diamond Fork River as an example of the board's listening to the environmental community's "noises and objections."
Leavitt received six names from the Salt Lake County Commission for the two open seats.
For one seat, vacated by Maloney, the commission recommended Dale Gardiner, a water attorney versed in environmental law and a member of the Salt Lake County Water Conservancy District; Fred Moreton, an insurance broker and a member of the board of the Salt Lake Metropolitan Water District; and West.
For the other opening, the commission recommended Palmer; Judy Bell, Sandy public works director; and Kim Wirthlin, former board member of the Utah Rivers Council, an environmental group.