Three years after its creation, the Cache Water District is preparing to implement a master plan and on Monday evening, the board members extended the public comment period in order to collect more input from the community.
The local Water Conservancy District first met in February 2017 after voters approved a ballot measure in November 2016. Since then, the board members have been using a plan created by Cache County in 2013 as a guide for their actions.
While most water districts around the state were created decades ago in conjunction with federal reservoir projects, the CWD was formed without owning or delivering any water.
“The district is still pretty new and unique,” said Nathan Daugs, the manager of the CWD. “Therefore, we don’t have any set, finely tuned priorities.”
The current draft of the master plan focuses generally on protecting Cache Valley’s water, future water needs, being a part of the future Bear River development project that the state is working on and getting an active conservation program going throughout the county.
Some people are saying a more concrete plan is needed before moving on.
“They apparently do not understand how a plan should be put together in order to use it,” said Bryan Dixon, who works on Bear River water issues with the Bridgerland Audubon Society.
Dixon, who has a master’s degree in environmental planning, said in order for a master plan to prove successful, there are certain requirements. According to Dixon, a vision is needed, followed by a defined mission. The mission should shape the goal, which will outline objectives to demonstrate progress, and then creating strategies to overcome obstacles will lead to overall successful projects and programs.
“Our single biggest concern about this plan is that it doesn’t identify these key elements of the planning process that makes it possible for you to get something out of it,” Dixon said.
Hilary Shughart is more concerned about the CWD’s focus — or lack of focus — on conservation and education. As president of the Bridgerland Audubon Society, Shughart has gone to most of the CWD meetings over the last three years and hopes that more people offer feedback that could shape the master plan.
Shughart said the influence of this master plan has a far reach and will impact natural systems such as the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the Great Salt Lake, which makes it important for the community to be both aware and involved.
“It’s a little complex in Cache County because each city has their own water system, and we have we have over 100 irrigation companies that deliver water around the county,” Daugs said. “Then, on top of that, we’ve got to figure out how to meet the environmental needs of the streams and wetlands in the valley. Incorporating all of this into our master plan becomes very complex.”
Daugs said there are no easy answers, which is why the five-year action items in the master plan remain generalized.
“I understand that there is a lot to consider, but this plan needs to be more than a general guidebook,” Shughart said. “The overall flavor is still too much geared for water storage than conservation and education.”
Jeannie Simmonds, the CWD treasurer and Logan Municipal Council member, agreed that the plan is vague but is also anxious to get the ball rolling.
Simmonds has been on the CWD board since the beginning and has spent the better part of the last three years helping create the bylaws and the organizational processes of the conservation district. She said the purpose of the plan is to guide future actions and is willing to put effort into a detailed plan as long as it doesn’t get changed on a whim in the future.
Daugs said they are accepting comments until Dec. 31. After gathering comments, a workshop will be conducted to discuss proposed ideas. The board hopes to finalize the master plan at the beginning of the new year.
More details about the Cache Water District’s master plan can be found at www.cachewaterdistrict.com, and comments concerning the master plan can be submitted via the same website.