County Leaders Laud Passage of Historic Legislation
Washington County Commissioners Gil Almquist, Victor Iverson, and Dean Cox applaud the Utah Legislature’s passing of H.B. 297: Colorado River Amendments. This bill, sponsored by Speaker of the House Brad Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams , passed the Utah House of Representatives with a vote of 61 to 12 and the Utah Senate with a vote of 24 to 3. The legislation now heads to the governor’s office for final approval.
“The Colorado River is one of our most valuable resources,” Commission Chair Gil Almquist said. “Utah consistently ranks as one of the driest states in the nation. We need water to support our economy and livelihoods. We have water rights to the Colorado River that have never been used and it’s important we protect those rights. We appreciate the legislature’s passage of this worthwhile bill.”
House Bill 297 will enact the Colorado River Authority of Utah. The Authority will be made up of six members from different geographical regions in Utah, including the Virgin River watershed area of Washington and Kane counties.
Commissioner Dean Cox commented, “Southern Utah voices are critical when discussing the future of Utah’s water. We are pleased the legislature recognized Washington County in this provision.”
The mission of the authority is to protect, conserve, use and develop Utah’s Colorado River appropriation. The authority will also be tasked with studying issues impacting the Colorado River system and developing management plans. Similar task forces have been created in other Colorado River Basin states.
“The Colorado River is one of the most important water sources for seven western states and part of Mexico,” said Commissioner Victor Iverson. “Wise stewardship and deliberation is critical as we seek to balance the demands on this important and limited resource. Our approach must protect Utah’s present and future water needs, while respecting other river users. This bill is a great step toward accomplishing this crucial goal.”