In the latest push for water conservation, three public water systems in the Moab and Spanish Valley region are proposing to unite to develop a “Water Utility Resource Management Plan.”

“Regardless of how many tourists come to the valley, I believe, and I think the Utah Division of Drinking Water believes, it’s a responsible thing for us to consider how best to use the water resources we have in the future,” said Chuck Williams, Moab City engineer.

In recent years, several studies have attempted to quantify how much water the valley has in its aquifers, and have all found different answers. The Water Utility Resource Management Plan would work with the City of Moab, the Grand Water & Sewer Service Agency, and the San Juan Spanish Valley Special Service District to analyze these past studies to create options for how to best manage current water resources.

At the Jan. 25 Moab City Council meeting, Williams outlined a plan to evaluate sharing water resources between entities, including water rights; consider the effects of drought and climate change; and to provide “a true water utility resource management plan that does not ignore or blame other providers or jurisdictions for water issues in the valley.”

The council was asked to approve a memorandum of understanding outlining how the three water entities would divide the cost of developing the plan. Acting City Manager Carly Castle stressed that the council was not voting on the plan itself, only on the cost-sharing agreement.

The council briefly discussed how such a plan could work with other current sustainability plans and recommended lengthening the amount of time that members of the public could weigh in.

Councilmember Rani Derasary and Mayor Joette Langianese sparred, as Derasary had numerous questions concerning the water management plan’s creation and Langianese tried to keep the meeting focused on the agenda item at hand.

Derasary asked who would be going to the meetings between the three water entities and whether or not they would be available to the public. She was also concerned with how existing water conservation plans and boards would interact with the plan.

Derasary’s questions and William’s answers continued for more than eight minutes, causing Langianese to become visibly frustrated and try to re-focus the meeting on the cost-sharing agreement.

“I’m going to ask you to wrap this up, Rani,” she said. “If you have any further questions of staff I suggest you reach out.”

Derasary responded that she wanted her questions answered on the public record and asked for more water conservation workshops at meetings and for water advisory board members to attend.

“I believe I addressed that question with you, Rani, when you asked me that question the other night,” Langianese said. “We will be moving forward with that as soon as we can.”

Langianese called for a motion to vote on the original agenda item: to approve the MOU to develop a Water Utility Resource Management Plan.

“I’ll be voting against this,” Derasary said. “As anyone watching the meeting can see, we’re not going to allow more discussion on it and we’re going to cut off discussion. It’s not transparent.”

The motion passed 4-1.