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By Myrna Trauntvein
Juab County Commissioners are all in when it comes to opposing the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District’s Project (CICWDC).
Annette Garland, representing the Great Basin Water Network (GBWN), met with commissioners to seek their backing in objecting to the CICWDC proposal to take groundwater that will harm Juab County’s West Desert residents.
“The project will harm rural groundwater basins extending from the Beryl Enterprise area all the way to the Great Salt Lake,” said Garland.
She said that a tax-and-spend project is an example of government waste, careless water management and misguided solutions to a community’s water needs.
“CICWCD has already depleted its own water supply,” said Garland. “Now it wants to drain more of the West Desert. Beaver, Millard and White Pine, NV, counties are all committed to fighting the project for their communities.”
The potential impacts to Juab County residents and resources is undeniable.
Kyle Roerink, executive director of Great Basin Water Network, had been in touch with the commission, said Clinton Painter, commissioner.
“He came in and talked to us and we gave our support,” said Painter.
He said that commissioners were not wanting CICWDC to take the water from Juab County and would oppose the taking. They had fought against Nevada taking the water from the West Desert and thought this would do the same thing.
“As we say, our victories are only temporary,” said Garland. “After defeating the SNWA’s (Southern Nevada Water) pipeline, we now have another boondoggle to fight.”
“This is basically the same battle,” said Richard Hansen, county commission chairman.
Cedar City is proposing a water grab just south of Baker and Great Basin National Park. It will siphon away water from rural Nevada and Utah’s West Desert to feed sprawl development in the water wasting community of Cedar City, said Garland.
She said that rates will skyrocket for residents, aquifers will empty, farms will perish, sacred cultural resources will vanish, wildlife will suffer, communities will pay and ecosystems will pay.
Cedar City needs to get conservative with its water. And it needs to get conservative with how it spends money.
“USGS (United States Geological Survey) estimates that the multi-phase project will harm Snake Valley and Fish Springs Flat in Juab County,” said Garland. “There are more than 20 other basins that will be harmed in Nevada and Utah according to USGS.”
“It will have an adverse affect on Fish Springs,” said Hansen.
He said that when Roerink talked to them, he said it was possible that when the water draw down occurred, the Great Salt Lake might flow backwards to fill the low water spaces.
“The Great Salt Lake could go the other way,” said Hansen.
“The brackish water will affect us,” said Garland.
In addition, she said, USGS estimates the perennial yield between Pine and Wah Wah Valleys is 11,000 to 15,000 acre feet. CICWCD wants to pump 26,000 any (acre-feet per year).
“That math spells trouble for the region,” she said.
Those aquifers are the same, said Hansen.
“We need to be really proactive,” said Marvin Kenison, commissioners.
Seventy percent of CICWCD’s budget comes from property tax collection, said Garland. One of its own studies suggested it will raise rates by 300 to 700 percent.
“We expect property tax hikes to elevate,” she said. “The project will cost at least 120 times more ($240 million is the low estimate) than CICWCD’s annual expenses ($2 million)”
This project does not comply with Utah water law, nor does it comply with federal laws, including a 2004 statute that requires a bi-state agreement between Utah and Nevada as it relates to appropriating water that comes from shared ground water basins, she said.
Right now, CICWCD is applying with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for a right of way on federal lands for a pipeline and wells in Pine Valley (Phase 1).
“A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) will need careful review and comments from the public before the BLM issues a Record of Decision,” said Garland. “We expect that following and approval of Phase 1, the CICWCD will begin on Wah Wah Valley (Phase 2).”
“What is BLM’s stand?,” asked Hansen.
Garland said that CICWD had already worked Phase 2 into its financial and operational planning. It maintains 11,000 any worth of rights in Wah Wah. CICWCD also has 10,000 any worth of applications in Hamlin Valley (Southern Snake Valley).
“How much risk can you take?” she asked. “The USGS model shows 500 feet of drawdown in Snake Valley, 50 feet of drawdown in Sevier Desert, 50 feet drawdown in Tule Valley, 1,000 feet of drawdown in Beryl-Enterprise, and 500 feet of drawdown in Milford Valley.”
Garland said that they did not know when the comment period had started and they were trying to get it extended.
“We are applying for an extension,” she said.
She said she appreciated the support of the county commission and the county’s financial help.
She also wanted to thank the commission for sending Gary Nielson out to spray for mosquitos.
I got West Nile and I wouldn’t want anyone else to suffer from it,” she said.