Taxpaying voters of Utah County – and in six other counties – have an opportunity and obligation to go to the polls Tuesday, Dec. 14 in what could be the most significant special election in the history of this state.
They will be called upon at that time to authorize the seven-county Central Utah Water Conservancy District to sign a contract with the federal government for repaying of its share of construction costs for the $324,000,000 Bonneville Unit of the Central Utah Project.
Other counties involved are Salt Lake, Wasatch, Duchesne, Uintah and parts of Juab and Summit. For owners of real and personal property, the project will mean a small added tax obligation, estimated at a half-mill levy.
‘Yes’ Vote Urged
As the Herald sees it, the only farsighted course in this election is to vote “yes.” The very future of Utah Valley and other areas affected is wrapped up in the Central Utah Project. Its fruitation can mean agricultural and industrial expansion, recreational development, flood control and fish and, wildlife advantages, population growth, needed jobs and payrolls, and a higher degree of economic security.
From the standpoint of agriculture alone, it is estimated that increased production in the areas served by CUP irrigation water will equal the present farm output in Utah County, the state’s No. 1 farm county. By comparison, this project will dwarf the Provo River (Deer Creek) Project which has meant so much to this valley.
The repayment contract has been approved by both the Conservancy District and the Federal Government. But approval of the taxpaying voters in the seven counties is required. Without the contract, construction cannot proceed.
Authorized By Congress
Farsighted men have dreamed and planned and worked for over 20 years to make the Central Utah Project a reality; so that our region can put its allocation of Colorado River water in use. Congress authorized the project in 1956 following appeals by this state through its congressional representatives. Fund allocations for planning and engineering have followed, and in 1965 the first $3.5 million for actual construction was authorized.
Now, for the people themselves, to somehow fail in catch the vision of the program and say ”no” at the polls would be the equivalent of telling the government, “No, we don’t want the Central Utah Project after all. Let California or Arizona have our share of the Colorado River water. We are not interested in growth and jobs and prosperity.”
This attitude would be a calamity. It is unthinkable that the people, offered so much at such a reasonable obligation, would reject the proposition. Early indications are just the reverse, with several groups and organizations already having appealed for a resounding affirmative vote. These have included the Utah Water and Power Board, Utah County Commission, Utah AFL-CIO Labor Organization, Salt Lake City Commission, and others.
Vital to Utah Valley
The Bonneville Unit is the largest of four authorized units of the CUP – the one which directly affects Utah Valley. It includes a series of dams, reservoirs, aqueducts, canals and other structures to facilitate trans-basin diversion of water from the headwaters of the Duchesne River to the Bonneville Basin (this includes our area) for irrigation, power production, and municipal and industrial users.
The Vernal Unit, already completed following a landslide “yes” vote of the people in the Uintah Basin, and the Jensen and Upalco Units also are important. But the Bonneville Unit is the big one, especially for our area.
Cost-wise, the Central Utah Water Conservancy District is responsible for repayment of $130,673,000 of the total estimated construction cost of $324,000,000 for the Bonneville Unit. Of this, about $85,000,000 must be paid through ad valorem tax over a period ranging from 46 to 67 years from the time water and power from the project become available. By law, property tax levels cannot exceed one mill. Conservancy district officials believe the actual need will be about one-half mill.
Construction Next Spring
Engineering has been advanced to the point that, with voter authorization, construction of first features could be under way in early spring of 1966. The first irrigation water would be delivered in the Duchesne segment in about four years and in the Bonneville Basin in about eight years. Municipal and industrial water delivery in the Bonneville Basin also would be in about eight years, with full delivery expected in 16 years and the project in full operation in the early 1980s. All this is simply for the CUP’s “initial phase.” Some day plans will be approved for the far-reaching “ultimate phase.” But that is another story.
So that you can become fully informed concerning the Bonneville Unit, its various phases, repayment contract, costs, the Herald will begin Monday a series of articles. There will also be statements by key Utah leaders for your further enlightenment and understanding. We invite you to read these.
Also, if you did not clip the legal notice by the Central Utah Water Conservancy District on Page 10 of Friday’s Herald, please do so. This will give you details of the election proposition as well as voting information and polling stations in your community.
To be informed on the Central Utah Project and its Bonneville Unit is to be convinced. Read and study in the next 15 days. Then on Dec. 14, go to the polls and vote for a better future for yourself and your children by placing a cross in the square marked “Yes.”