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The most hotly disputed parts of a draft 50-year water strategy including references to the Lake Powell Pipeline and the Bear River Project will be rewritten before they are submitted to the governor for approval next month.
The 40-member advisory team responsible for writing the document decided Wednesday that some sections of the 200-page guide required further revision to incorporate public comment and alternative points of view.
Those portions primarily addressed water conservation, tapping property taxes to fund water systems, and large water development projects.
Seven of the draft's 11 chapters, including one on climate change, were approved. The finished report is due on Gov. Gary Herbert's desk by July 19.
These advisers, including environmental advocates, industry representatives and state water managers, spent months working on the current plan after a previous draft drew fire from outsiders and team members themselves as confusing and contradictory. Many of the latest revisions took place in a series of meetings undisclosed to the public.
Wednesday's gathering was intended to collect a final round of public feedback. Nearly two dozen residents and advocates spoke, some comparing Utah's water use to an opiate addiction and the proposed strategy to the GOP's health care bill.
The bulk of the public comment called for more detailed conservation suggestions and criticized support of the billion-dollar-plus Lake Powell Pipeline and Bear River Project.
The draft states that both projects will be necessary to meet Utah's water needs, but many in the audience questioned whether the state had the data to back that assertion.
"The state's stance is that we need to be working now to build the Bear River Project and the Lake Powell Pipeline," said Doug Nagie, a University of Utah student who attended the hearing with several other water policy classmates. "We talk about this development, and were basing that on numbers that are just not trustworthy."
Nagie argued the state should get more reliable data before endorsing additional water projects.
After the hearing, the advisory team reviewed written comments collected via the Envision Utah website. Various members argued more time was necessary to incorporate public feedback into the report.
"Given the number of comments from the public … we can at least, where appropriate, integrate language from the public comments," said Stephanie Duer, who oversees water conservation for Salt Lake City Public Utilities. "I think that's really important so that the public knows we heard them. And I am not comfortable writing that on the fly."