Water rights depleting for some Iron Co. agriculture producers – ABC4.com

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Posted: Mar 24, 2022 / 07:07 PM MDT
Updated: Mar 24, 2022 / 07:07 PM MDT
Posted: Mar 24, 2022 / 07:07 PM MDT
Updated: Mar 24, 2022 / 07:07 PM MDT
CEDAR CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Nearly $500 million in legislative bills have been passed this year to go toward water conservation, but ranchers say they’re worried about the future of their water rights, as they’ve been over-allocated in Iron County.
“All of our basins here in Iron County have been over-allocated on their water, so in the next 15 or so years, we’re all going to start taking cuts to our water rights,” says Scott Stubbs an Iron County rancher.
Stubbs says he owns water rights and says he’s worried about the future of agriculture producers amid the drought and growth.
Paul Monroe, the Central Iron Co. Water Conservancy District general manager says there are junior and senior water rights.
“There are some that have senior water rights that are protected and will not be cut, but it’s based on what your priorities are in the water system,” says Monroe.
Stubbs says he has some junior and senior rights, but eventually, he won’t have access to water like he did in the past due to the county’s overuse of water.
“We’re nervous about being able to sustain our heritage in the agriculture business,” says Stubbs.
State officials implemented the Cedar Valley Groundwater Management Plan last year to prevent water from depleting to the point where it can’t recharge. Monroe says eventually junior farmers/ ranchers won’t have rights to water.
“Now there is a certain amount of water that’s available identified from the state, what’s concerning is within our municipalities, we stand to lose 75% of the water in our basin,” says Monroe.
Monroe says the district is working on projects, so these water rights last longer for those falling under the junior threshold.
“The more we conserve and do a better job there, that will extend those cuts, but we can’t conserve our way out of a lot of the water use and the reduction of water rights,” he says.
“Let’s everybody, try to be as efficient with water as we possibly can, and get the most out of what we have,” says Stubbs.
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