Water for the West: Why It Matters to Provo

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Ducks, people, DUCKS! The kind that have to be lined up in a row for stuff to happen? You gotta watch the ducks!

The Daily Herald reported yesterday that “The North Shore Aquaduct, a 5-foot pipeline, will allow up to 63,800 acre feet of water to feed communities west of the lake beginning in July.”

This is an important duck! Development on the west side of the lake will drive development of Utah Lake itself, and thus every community surrounding it will be effected, ultimately, by the 56,000-gallons-per-minute that this pipeline will deliver. Water=development=change.

Central Utah Water Conservancy district bought Geneva Steel’s water rights, and will pipe the water over to a reservoir in Saratoga Springs. Water was the big hurdle for more development across the lake. More development was the key to getting a causeway built across the lake, as was the legislature’s requirement that whoever built the causeway have funding in place. Funding was dependent on rooftops and rooftops were dependent on WATER. See the ducks lining up?

The discussions are already occurring about where to put the causeway access — west Provo ? Orem? If Provo Bay gets the causeway terminus, it would mean hugely increased traffic on Center street, which would require increased infrastructure — wider road,  curb/gutter/sidewalk, storm drains, utilities, etc.

How does Provo pay for infrastructure? Development. The city follows a policy of “development-driven capital improvements.” The General Plan amendment that DR Horton recently proposed for 400 acres of farmland and wetland out by the lake is only one indication that the ducks are lining up. Other ducks are more stealthy — the push to fund the Westside Connector, the acquisition of farmland by certain connected individuals, the campaign to build a beach and other recreational facilities at Utah Lake? Ducks!

No matter how fast the ducks line up, there is only one reason some people want to get those little quackers into a nice orderly row — money. No doubt, there are elected officials who genuinely want to prepare the community for future growth. But there are also speculators, who want to make a buck off the decisions our elected officials make. We all need to pay attention, because knowledgeable and powerful men are moving, behind the scenes, and the ducks are being herded, with or without our knowledge. Somebody needs to investigate — Who is buying up property on the west side of Provo? Who is anticipating increased development brought by a causeway? Who is having discussions with, and influence upon, the decision-makers?

I believe these discussions need to occur in the full light of day. I think the public needs to know about, and have a say about, all ducks.

Melanie McCoard
I have been following the Provo political scene closely for nearly two decades. I've been a developer, a reporter, a neighborhood chair, a candidate, a lobbyist, and a political "gadfly." I readily express my opinion about almost every issue that comes up. Some people value my " institutional memory;" others say I am a "public nuisance." I care about the community, and I know that city government is where the "rubber meets the road,"
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