On Tuesday night the Moab City Council passed a resolution asking the Utah Division of Water Rights to limit allocations to Spanish Valley, based on the recommendation of the Moab City Water Conservation and Drought Management Advisory Board.
“We are not in a serious situation at this point in time,” said board chair Arne Hultquist. “The city has plenty of water. We probably have enough infrastructure to support us for several years. The issue will come in the next few decades and that’s really where the groundwater management plan is taking us. I feel it is in Moab’s best interests to have the aquifer closed.”
Council Member Mike Duncan described the resolution as a “feel-good” move, which he supported as a measure to raise public awareness of the issue.
“This motion is largely a feel-good, if you will in the sense it does not bind the state to do anything,” Duncan said. “The state will make their own findings as to the merit of the issues that are raised and the recommendation. Furthermore it’s my expectation from [Marc Stilson], the southeast Utah regional water rights engineer, that he will most likely wait until the conclusion of the groundwater management plan anyway to make any changes whatsoever. However the reason we put this forward ... the region is heavily over-appropriated in water. It’s consciousness-raising.”
Council Member Tawny Knuteson-Boyd hoped to table the resolution until the council had more information.
“I don’t want to accept a resolution just to feel good. I want it to have some real merit,” Knuteson-Boyd said. “I think that the board, their heart and their mind is in the right place. We obviously want to protect what we have and not over-allocate and that’s a very real thing ... but I would like to get more data before we’re committed from a resolution.”
Council members Karen Guzman-Newton and Rani Derasary both supported the measure.
“I was happy with what they brought back and to take note, before our time as council members the council hired a water advisory board for exactly these types of reasons. To respect the work that they’re doing is something that’s important to me too,” Guzman-Newton said.
The council voted three to one to approve the resolution. Knuteson-Boyd was opposed and Council Member Kalen Jones was not present.