CEDAR CITY — Local leaders have put a lot of time and resources in trying to find ways to meet current and future water demands in Iron County but now – faced with the effects of a four-year drought and no immediate way to import additional water – the state water engineer is getting involved.
The Utah Division of Water Rights is hosting a public meeting at Cedar High School auditorium Thursday night to discuss the process for developing a groundwater management plan for Iron County.
The meeting is to help water users begin to create their own management plan that would bring groundwater withdrawals to a safe yield and protect the aquifer geologists have said has been over mined.
“This meeting will help water owners and anyone with a vested interest to communicate and to come together to plan and work through this issue to a solution,” Enoch City Manager, Rob Dotson said.
Water users in the Beryl-Enterprise area adopted a 118-year groundwater management plan in 2012 after it was determined the groundwater in that area had been pumped faster than it could be recharged, (also known as groundwater mining).
According to the plan, the total water depletion in that area was to be reduced over time until the depletion matched the safe yield, part of that included the elimination of water rights, with the newest water rights eliminated first.
State Regional Water Engineer Nathan Moses said the division wants to avoid having to cut water rights in Iron County which is why, he said, they would like to see water users initiate their own plan.
“We’ve done this in other areas where water users came together and created their own water management plan and we’ve had a lot of success with it,” Moses said.
Unlike the Beryl-Enterprise area, Iron County owns a significant number of water rights in the west desert that once developed would provide enough water to supply the current and future demand said Paul Monroe, executive director for Central Iron County Water Conservancy District.
However, whether state officials will allow this water to influence the overall management plan is unknown at this time, he added.
The plan in the Beryl-Enterprise area was a five-year process beginning in 2007. This one would be no different Moses said, in that it will take time.
The development of a groundwater management plan falls under Utah Code 73-5-15 and provides authorization for the state water engineer to use a gradual implementation approach consisting of two phases as was used in the Beryl-Enterprise area.
While the public meeting Thursday is specifically advertised for Cedar Valley water users, Monroe said he believes it’s important anyone with a vested interest in the future water of Iron County show up.
“Water is life and it is the lifeblood of our community that has allowed our area to thrive and to grow since it’s been settled,” he said.
If you go
What: Public Meeting
Who: Cedar Valley Water Users
When: January 7, 2016
Where: Cedar High School auditorium 703 West 600 South
Purpose: The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the process for developing a groundwater management plan for Cedar Valley in Iron County. Personnel from the Division of Water Rights will be available to take all questions and comments provided by the general public and interested parties.
If you are unable to attend the meeting, but would like to provide input, please send your written comments to: Division of Water Rights 646 North Main St P.O. Box 506 Cedar City, UT 84721-0506
Agenda for public meeting
- Current Groundwater Policy
- Groundwater Management Plans
- Hydrologic Data and Water Rights Information
- Public Questions/Comments
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