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0000017c-7f7e-d4f8-a77d-fffffe370000Utah Public Radio is dedicated to bring you in-depth political stories during this election year so you can cast an informed vote. Here is a compilation of our local news coverage for you to refer back to, to study and to share with others.

Should The Cache Water District Be Created?

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If you haven’t heard, next Tuesday is Election Day.  Voters have been bombarded by political campaigns for the past year and a half, but there are some issues that haven’t gotten as much coverage, and many voters still don’t know about some state amendments and county propositions.  I sat down with a Cache County voter that wished to remain anonymous as she took a first look at her ballot.

“Okay, I’ve got the envelope here, and inside is the official ballot for Cache County” the voter said.

“Have you already made up your mind on who you’re going to vote for for President?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah, like a year ago, but I don’t know much about the amendments on the ballot here.  And there’s a Cache Water District issue?  Hadn’t even heard of that.  Should the Cache Water District be creates, yes or no?” the voter read.

“Should it?” I asked.

“I don’t know what it is.  It’s really open-ended.  I don’t know anything about what the water district will entail.  Will it raise taxes?  Will it conserve water?  That would be a positive thing for Utah and Cache County,” the voter said.

This was a common reaction from most of the people I talked to about the water district.  Most people just didn’t know anything about it, and honestly, neither did I.  I went to a panel discussion about the creation of a district, and interviewed two of the panelist, one for, and one against.  Proponents argue that a water district will help protect Cache County water interests from other, powerful districts in other areas.

“The water’s going to be utilized, one way or the other.  The question is, are the better stewards the County Council, or are the better stewards a water district that’s directly accountable for their actions.  My name is Sean Dustin, and I’m the mayor of Nibley City, and my position on the ballot item is that I’m for it.”

“Possession’s nine-tenths of the law," Dustin continued, "and once the water leaves this valley, if we don’t have that political platform to demand that, A: it stay here in the first place, and B: that we make those decisions and we are self-determining how that stuff’s going to get used… I trust our community values, and I trust our ethos a lot more than what I see happening down along the Wasatch Front.”

Opponents of the water district argue that the County Council already fulfills the role of what a water district would do, and with greater transparency than districts across the state.  A water district would also involve a property tax, something that is not mentioned on the ballot.

“I tend to think that something as important as building a dam," said Brett Roper, a watershed scientist and outdoor columnist, "perhaps in the future, is better addressed if we put that forth to the entire citizenry of Cache County rather than leaving it to eleven people, although this time around the are elected individuals as opposed to appointed, so it is certainly a step forward.”

Roper is against the ballot item, largely for environmental reasons.  He believes that a water district will make it easier to implement the Cache County Water Master Plan.

“The Cache Water Plan, the Master Water Plan," Roper continued, "what you’ll find is over a hundred mentions of water storage and only three mentions of the word fish.”

The Cache County Water Master Plan, prepared by J-U-B Engineers, Inc., does indeed include details of how to store water and potentially sell it to the Wasatch Front.  Opponents of the water district say that the district will make it easier to implement this plan and further develop the Bear River, while proponents of the water district like Mayor Dustin argue that the district could help to change the plan.

“If we just turned around and built the water project and started selling water because that’s what the [Cache County Water Master] Plan says to do, that’s a bad outcome,” said Dustin.

So it seems that any way you look at it, we need to revisit the Water Master Plan.  The creation of a Cache County Water District could certainly change the way water is managed in northern Utah.  In one of the fastest-growing areas on the country, voters need to make sure if the changes are for better or worse, and educate themselves on this complicated issue before mailing in their ballots.