As Controversial Pine Valley EIS is Released, Western Groups Ask State Auditor to Investigate Iron County Water District
Groups File Complaint Over Iron County’s Pine Valley Water Project Meeting, for Violating Utah Open & Public Meetings Act
In early January, Iron County Water Conservatives, Great Basin Water Network, and Utah Rivers Council filed a complaint with the State Auditor requesting an investigation into Central Iron County Water Conservancy District’s (CICWCD) violations of the Utah Open & Public Meetings Act.
CICWCD did not give adequate notice to the public of their Community Education Water Meeting held on December 7, 2021. Despite having the time to send mailers to a select group of people, CICWCD did not post the information required about the meeting on the Utah Public Notice website 24 hours in advance, violating Utah law. CICWCD only posted notice of the meeting on the website 9 hours before the meeting began, in an apparent attempt to keep concerned members of the public away from the meeting.
“CICWCD can’t even properly notice a meeting – how can we trust it to manage a pipeline that’s destined for disaster,” said Kyle Roerink, Executive Director of the Great Basin Water Network. “The failure to comply with the law on the little things exemplifies our concerns about CICWCD managing an unnecessary and wasteful water grab,” said Roerink.
CICWCD’s used a vague meeting title to gloss over the fact that the meeting was about the controversial Pine Valley Water Supply Project. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Project was released January 7, 2021. Despite the impending DEIS and the great interest by the community in the Project, CICWCD withheld information about this meeting and only posted notice the day the meeting was held. This withholding of public meeting information violates Utah Code and should be investigated.
“I am not surprised they botched compliance with Utah law, because this water agency has botched the basics of how to provide a market-based, sustainable water supply for years,” said Zach Frankel, Executive Director of the Utah Rivers Council.
Iron County Water Conservatives, Great Basin Water Network, and Utah Rivers Council are requesting that the State Auditor, John Dougall, investigate CICWCD and their failure to comply with the Open & Public Meetings Act. Water district meetings should be accessible, transparent, and encourage public participation, and many community members are dismayed that CICWCD would hinder the public’s access and knowledge of a meeting in which such a costly and unnecessary water project was presented. The groups have requested that the auditor respond to them in writing with the results of the investigation.