GBWN, its friends at the Utah Rivers Council and other groups won a major victory after federal officials responded to our demands for an investigation on the proposal to dam the East Fork of the Virgin River. Known as Cove Reservoir, the project was going through an inadequate environmental review overseen by the Natural Resource Conservation Service. More importantly, Utah Rivers Council uncovered that the taxpayer funded proposal was likely not meeting federal funding requirements. URC, GBWN and others demanded an investigation – as well as stricter permitting requirements.
Today we learned that the federal government will conduct a more robust review and an investigation. Read Joan Meiners latest in The Spectrum to get all the details.
At stake was $22 million worth of taxpayer dollars. The project proponents, Kane and Washington Counties in Southern Utah, are among the worst water wasters in the west. Under NRCS funding requirements, those federal dollars are to be used on agricultural projects in order to get a large reimbursement from taxpayer coffers. But when the Utah Rivers Council went to the area purported to benefit from the dam, it turned out that some of the areas were already being converted into subdivisions and other non-ag uses.
Ag dollars should go to ag producers. And applicants for federal funds should be honest about their intents.
This is a victory for GBWN, its allies, and opponents of taxpayer waste and water waste.