Lee Questions Salazar on Long-Running Utah Water Project

(KCPW News) U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar fielded several questions from Republican Utah Senator Mike Lee when presenting his budget request to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Tuesday. Lee questioned the secretary on his recent proposal to put the Central Utah Project, a decades-long water distribution project, under the authority of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

“Given how well it’s been managed under the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, and given the problems that we had when it was previously under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Reclamation, why is it a good idea to change that?” he asked.

Lee noted the project exceeded its budget when the federal government was in charge of it before 1992.

Salazar responded that the Central Utah Project has been a priority for both him and President Obama.

“It seems to me that it makes no sense to have another government agency out there doing one of our Bureau of Reclamation projects when we have hundreds of other Bureau of Reclamation projects within the Bureau of Reclamation,” he responded. “By having the Central Utah Project office come within the Bureau of Reclamation, I believe it will allow us to do a better job so it’s an efficiency measure on our part.”

The Central Utah Project was first authorized by the federal government in 1956.