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Know the West

'The vampires are in charge of the blood bank'


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

Zachary Frankel, a native of Salt Lake City, is the executive director of the Utah Rivers Council.

Zachary Frankel: "I lived in Washington state and studied river ecology. I went diving in rivers and realized how gorgeous rivers are. When you're in the bottom of a river and you're looking up at the sun shining through, it's a beautiful thing to see. Then I read Cadillac Desert (by Mark Reisner) and that really pissed me off.

"In 1992 with the new and revised CUP, Congress literally kicked the Bureau of Reclamation out of the CUP and handed it to the Central Utah Water Conservancy District. Suddenly this group of Utah farmers and politicians is in charge of a billion-dollar water project. The vampires are in charge of the blood bank. "I'm not trying to say that they're all a band of thieves, but this system breeds corruption. They enjoy taxation without representation. You can't vote them out of office - they're appointed by the governor. There's no oversight.

"If it were any other commodity, the public would be outraged. If we were talking about natural gas, these people would lose their jobs immediately. The press would have a field day. But because it's water, people are lulled into the sense that it's for the common good.

"This culture has a rich tradition of irrigation. The Mormons were the first community in the West to create their own water project. It was right there in City Creek.

"In this state, disagreeing with popular culture does not make you any friends. There's no healthy disagreement here. Either you're in or you're not. I don't know how many anonymous calls I get. People want to get the truth out, but they don't want to stand up and take the criticism.