To the editor:
It’s different this time around and it deserves our support. You could call it Cache County WCD III, because the first two attempts to establish a water conservancy district failed in the early 1990s. But this time, the proponents are committed to long term protection of water, both for people and the world we live in — i.e., "the environment."
This time, the board will be elected by us. And there are bylaws drafted before the election. And this time the arguments are not couched in fear. It’s not Chicken Little running around claiming someone else is "gonna grab our water."
And, this time, dams and other projects — on the Bear River or elsewhere — are not the focus. There may be need for any number of construction projects down the road, but only if they are effective, efficient, equitable, and economical alternatives to provide the water needed. First, there will be a focus on water conservation, through research and education. That is, by far, the most economical “source” of water. Other innovative approaches, such as aquifer recharge and recovery, will also be considered.
An exciting argument for the Cache Water District is the opportunity for water rights banking. A CWD can acquire water freed up by agricultural users when land is developed, and hold those water rights for other uses, now or in the future. That means more in-stream flow, healthier riparian zones, and safeguarding water rights for populations in the distant future.
Current forecasts show plentiful supplies for several decades. And where the biggest deficits are expected the soonest, there’s a community right next door with a projected surplus. A CWD can then help to broker the water trade and provide the infrastructure to move that water to where it’s most needed.
Another layer of government? Not so much. More like shifting governance to a body with expertise. Think school districts. Our local city and county councils may be great at managing general issues across a broad public, but when technical expertise is critical, it really pays to use people with expertise.
Taxes? Yes, but taxes can be good things when they give us benefits impossible for the individual to purchase alone. And at first, taxes for water shouldn’t increase because the county will simply reduce its draw as the CWD takes on responsibilities. And there is a prohibition on building fancy offices until really needed.
I admit feeling a little weird coming out in support of a water conservancy district. But local, intelligent control of precious resources is what’s being promised. And, having watched the organizing committee in action, I see no reason not to believe it can’t come to pass.