'We haven't got anything back'

by Lisa Church

Note: this article is a sidebar to the news story "Utah's river kid takes on the water buffaloes."

Roscoe (Ross) Garrett, a lifelong resident of Nephi, Utah, has served on the board of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District for more than 35 years.

Ross Garrett: "This community settled in 1852. About 15 years ago we started to get an influx of people. So right now we're up to about 6,000 or more people in Nephi and more wanting to move in. It's a nice place, clean air, beautiful scenery, but the water supply just isn't here.

"All our water comes from Mount Nebo. It's a steep mountain, making it difficult to build a reservoir. We can use it when it comes but we can't save anything for the summer. If we have a good snowpack, then we're not in too bad a shape. But this year, our snowpack was very light, and the prospect of much irrigation water is very slim, so we're going to be hurting.

"My view is probably prejudiced, but every day we read in the paper about traffic jams and crime and everything in Salt Lake. And why anyone would want to send more water to encourage more population up there is just beyond me.

"(Salt Lake County is) looking at other sources, including conservation techniques and well drilling and other sources, than stealing our water. They have a lot of ideas of recycling water and conservation that would put them well into this century. I think they have some good planning.

"We've been paying in and haven't got anything back down this way since the district was organized in 1964. Now they say well, you're just a small community and we'll give you your money back now. But that doesn't really solve our problem.

"If we didn't get the water, the first thing - and it might not be a bad idea - they'd have to put a limit on any more building in this area. We couldn't handle any more people. So I think it would put a damper on any more additional growth. And without the water - we've toughed it out all these years thinking that next year we'd have a better deal or get water - but I don't think any of the young people here would want to continue in agriculture if the water doesn't come."

Copyright © 2000 HCN and Lisa Church

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