N. Utah officials praise new water strategy effort

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 2:19 PM

Antone Clark, Standard-Examiner Correspondent

Gov. Gary Herbert has assembled a water advisory team charged with developing a 50-year water strategy.

At a water summit in Provo on Wednesday, the governor announced a 38-member State Water Strategy Advisory Team, which he has charged with developing and refining solutions for the state’s water future. The team is comprised of elected officials, conservation leaders, water managers, recreational organizations, attorneys and business representatives.

The group includes Tage Flint, CEO of the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, Voneen Jorgensen of the Bear River Water Conservancy District, Bob Fotheringham, Cache County Water Manager, and Leland Myers of the South Davis Sewer District, among others.

“We face far-reaching challenges in Utah’s water future,” Herbert said. “From a growing population to drought concerns and funding problems, many complicated and weighty considerations demand we plan and prepare now.”

The team is expected to solicit and evaluate water management strategies and set the framework for public feedback on the implications of potential water options, according to Herbert.

Jenkins called the move to form the group the right approach. “I’m excited. I think it’s a great start,” Jenkins said.

In the 2013 legislative session, Jenkins proposed a water tax in an effort to fund major water projects. That issue never made it out of committee. He continues to think funding of water projects needs to be more widely discussed as the state moves forward.

Flint said Jenkins addressed a sensitive issue, which the board will have to deal with. He said water projects are expensive and not easily funded, especially since the federal government is not funding the projects as it did in the past.

Flint said people are currently enjoying the benefits of forward thinking of people decades ago, in addressing how to store and conserve Utah’s existing water supply. He said development will bring the need for more storage options and infrastructure, since much of the water runs off three months before the demand.

He praised Herbert for looking ahead to address a critical problem.

“It’s a great time to have that dialogue,” Flint said of future water needs.

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