Our view: We must protect our water

There are a lot of thirsty eyes looking at the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Some of them are our neighbors in Wyoming.

Nearly 14 years have passed since the idea of a trans basin water diversion was first presented to the residents of Sweetwater County and thankfully the project proposals tossed around by people like Aaron Million never took flight.

We are as opposed to the idea as we have ever been, as there is not situation involving trans basin diversion we could conceive that would benefit the residents of Sweetwater County. We’re also happy to have seen politicians from all sides in Sweetwater County taking up the cause to oppose a diversion. It’s a rare situation where everyone is on the same page and of the same opinion that trans basin division is a bad idea for all of us.

With a movement started to retire the original intent of Communities Protecting the Green and shift its focus away from providing potential litigation in opposition to a diversion effort, we believe it’s important to remember how precious our water is and reiterate how necessary it is to protect that resource.

We certainly don’t believe the new Sweetwater County Water User Coalition would be lax in doing just that, despite its focus being more advisory and education than potential litigation. We also believe the assertions that litigation would be handled by downstream users in the event a trans basin diversion is given a green light to proceed. The ongoing drought in the western states has created a protection blanket for us -- water has become too precious downstream to waste or divert. If the situation were dire enough, we also don’t think we wouldn’t see the county and the two cities join in any litigation should the situation warrant it.

While Million’s plan hasn’t been a major concern for years, we’re still concerned about other plans, especially those that would benefit the state’s capital city and surrounding areas. Should the thirst provided by economic and population growth persist, we see a potential situation where the leaders of Laramie County may start looking west to quench that thirst.

Should the state’s leadership decide to start investigating a means of sending water across the state, we could have a fight on our hands.

Water is important to the future of Sweetwater County. Should the county want to diversify its economy, water will be a key to making that happen. The ongoing work to create an industrial park near the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport demands it. Without access to a steady supply of water, that growth won’t happen. Anyone looking to locate an industrial business along the Middle Baxter Road won’t be receptive to the idea of trucking it in from Rock Springs, which is what the airport currently does.

We must protect our water rights. Otherwise we don’t have a future of growth and prosperity. While we’re sure the city and county leaders understand that, we hope future leaders will take that fact to heart and fight any future proposals that would divert water away from us.

 

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