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Cache County Council moves to form water conservancy district

February 26th, 2015 Posted in Opinion

Facing lower than average precipitation levels and a rapidly growing population, the Cache County Council reiterated its goal to form a Cache County specific water conservancy district in a meeting on Jan. 13.

“A water conservancy district is a legal entity that will protect our water rights and you’re able to do more with funding that can be used for bigger water projects like dams,” said Greg Merrill, a Logan representative on the Cache County Council.

The water conservancy district would consist of a board of elected representatives from specific municipalities within the county. The board would set policies, tax county residents and protect and secure water rights for future population growth.

“The county has grown 30 percent since 2000 and is projected to double in population by 2050,” Merrill said.

According to data from the Cache County Water Master Plan, six municipal systems in the county will have annual water shortages by 2025, as will half the county by 2040. The data suggests that in less than 50 years the county will face significant water shortage problems.

When the Cache County Council unanimously adopted the water plan in 2013, Cache County Water manager Bob Fotheringham explained to the council that water rights are running out for these communities, because there are multiple municipalities to the south that all have a stake in Cache County water rights.

“Water conservation alone will not meet the demand that the municipalities will have and we’ll have to come up with additional sources of supply,” Fotheringham said. “Bottom line is we need to develop new water to meet the demands for Cache County in the future.”

According to the Cache County Water Master Plan, a Cache County conservancy district would promote water conservation, provide representation for both irrigators and drinking water users and provide a funding source to help complete regional water projects.

Merrill said that most counties in Utah have water conservancy districts, but Cache County’s past efforts to create its own water conservancy district have been voted down by county residents.

“Some people felt like it was taxation without representation, because back then the board consisted of appointed officials, not elected ones,” Merrill said.

Merrill stressed the importance of forming a water conservancy district in the valley, but said ultimately it’s up to the voters.

“It will be the citizens’ final decision,” Merrill said.

Shelby Ruud, Kristen Steiner, Thomas Sorenson, Parker Atkinson and Ethan Trunnell contributed to this report.


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