Committee asks city to support water-rights moratorium
by John Hales
The Times-Independent
Mar 01, 2018 | 2175 views | 0 0 comments | 106 106 recommendations | email to a friend | print
​ The Moab Water Conservation and Drought Management Advisory Committee is asking the Moab City Council to back a moratorium on granting new water rights out of the Moab-Spanish Valley aquifer.

​ The committee forwarded the wording of a proposed resolution of support for the idea at a meeting on Feb. 14.

​ “Continuing to perpetuate the impression that abundant groundwater resources are available for unchecked development is misleading and a disservice to valley residents,” states one paragraph of the proposed resolution.

​ The resolution, if adopted by the council as currently worded, would formally request that the Utah Division of Water Rights cease issuing new water-right allocations out of the aquifer, at least until completion of a groundwater management plan is developed.

​ Short of that, the city would ask DWR to strictly limit that amount of water rights issued out of the aquifer until the same time.

​ “Proactively addressing adequate water resources is fundamental to our community’s financial stability and livability,” the draft resolution states.

​ The plan is one prong of a several-pronged approach to making sure the area has enough water for decades to come.

​ Another prong is a process by which DWR will align and correlate documented water rights with the actual amount of water being used. The process is called adjudication, and it’s an attempt to correct a rampant problem throughout the state: On paper, more water is allowed for use than actually exists.

​ That doesn’t mean we are out of water, but it’s not certain how much water can be allowed for new development in the area.

​The adjudication process is slated to begin within a few weeks.

​ But while the water over-allocation issue is a broadly recognized one and hardly (if at all) disputed, the committee used the opportunity to take its own shots at views on climate change.​

​ The resolution uses that term — climate change — three times.

​ “Does it need to be said more than once?” asked committee member Kara Dohrenwend. She felt once was enough.

​ But other members of the committee pushed back.​Committee member Jeremy Lynch said he felt “normalizing” the term was important. He told The Times-Independent later that he felt it was important to insist on using the terminology, rather than giving in to negative political imputations.

​ “There has been a deliberate attempt, and deliberate actions taken to eliminate certain terms and certain connotations from the dialogue,” Lynch said.

​ Committee member Kyle Bailey noted that even such a conservative politician as Gov. Gary Herbert had used the term “climate change” while decrying its negative impacts on the state’s ski-tourism industry.

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