New bill would seize water from farmers and ranchers in an emergency
Jan 18, 2023, 11:00 AM
(Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — A bill before the legislature would seize water from, then reimburse farmers and ranchers in case of water emergency declarations.
Rep. Carl Albrecht, R-Salt Lake City, is sponsoring the bill.
Albrecht said the bill, H.B. 150, would use water from farmers and ranchers if there were a water emergency that required action from the governor and the legislature.
“The state could take water from a farmer or a rancher who has first-in-time, first-in-right, rights for that water. And use it for culinary purposes, sanitation purposes, power generation and firefighting, couple other things.”
In return, the Department of Agriculture would reimburse those farmers and ranchers for any lost crops.
Albrecht estimated the state would need about $3 to $10 million for repayments and remuneration.
Reimbursements would come from the creation of a revolving loan fund. The legislature has not appropriated any money for repayments yet though.
According to Albrecht, a lot of thought has gone into the bill. But, he hopes it never has to be used.
“Hopefully it’s a resource that’s put on the shelf that could be used by the governor, the legislature,” Albrecht said.
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