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Resolution urges development of water

The Utah State Senate voted 21-8 on Wednesday to support a water project that has been a controversial subject for the last 70 years.

The resolution sponsored by Senator Ralph Okerlund states that the state of Utah and the Bureau of Reclamation should move ahead with developing the 5400 acre feet of water that Sanpete County says it owns in the Wasatch Plateau. That same water drains into Scofield Reservoir, the main water supply for Carbon County.

A similar resolution at the legislature has been proposed before, but had never been passed. All but one Democrat in the Senate voted against the resolution and they were joined by only one Republican, David Hinkins who represents Carbon County.

The development of the water can mean many things, but basically to those in Sanpete County who support the resolution it means building the Gooseberry Dam project. Carbon County has opposed the project, and has won numerous court cases concerning the idea.

The project is also opposed by many environmental, conservation and wildlife groups, because they feel it will disrupt the habitat in the drainage, a place where the water naturally flows into the Colorado River drainage.

A dam would divert that water through a tunnel to the northern Sanpete Valley, where it would mostly be used for agriculture.

The resolution is non-binding, but does put some political pressure on various agencies. It was also directed toward the states congressional delegation where only Representative Jim Matheson has come out strongly against such a project.

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