Commission withholds judgment on water rights bill

Commission withholds judgment on water rights bill

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The State Water Development Commission took a pass Wednesday on whether to recommend changing how long water companies can hold water without using it.

Rep. Patrick Painter, R-Nephi, wants to increase the time water rights can be held without use from five years to seven years.

His bill would also protect someone's water right from being forfeited if it's being held for "reasonable" future water requirements of the public.

The issue is ultimately up to the Legislature, but the commission, of which Painter is a member, didn't want to recommend something that members said could lead to significant changes in how water rights are doled out without clear, strong support for the measure.

The inaction highlights the delicate nature of water in the West, where droughts are common and booming population growth increasingly puts pressure on water supplies.

Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem, has said water rights will be one of the biggest issues the Legislature faces when it reconvenes in January.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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