Bureau of Reclamation finalizes Green River Water Rights Exchange with the state of Utah

Media Contact: Darrick Whipple, 801-379-1195, dwhipple
Marcie Larson, 801-641-0986, MarcieLarson@utah.gov

For Release: March 20, 2019

ST. GEORGE, UTAH – The Bureau of Reclamation and state of Utah held a ceremony today to sign the Green River Water Rights Exchange contract. Under the terms of the contract, the state agrees to forbear its right to deplete water from the Green River and its tributaries, enabling Reclamation to meet Endangered Species Act flow requirements. In exchange, the state of Utah will receive an equal amount of water released from Flaming Gorge Dam. The contract provides assistance in meeting flow and temperature requirements for the recovery of endangered fish, and allows Reclamation to continue operations in compliance with the 2006 Record of Decision.

Representatives from Reclamation and the state completed negotiations on the proposed agreement last year, and Reclamation recently completed a subsequent National Environmental Policy Act review, which resulted in a Finding of No Significant Impact. This agreement is specific to the Green River Block of the state’s previously-assigned Central Utah Project Ultimate Phase water right. It is not related to the state’s proposed Lake Powell Pipeline project.

“This water exchange contract represents a successful and productive partnership between the State of Utah and the federal government,” said Reclamation’s Upper Colorado Regional Director Brent Rhees. “A partnership aimed at providing maximum value from available water resources.”

“We appreciate our partnership with Reclamation and the hard work of our respective teams during this process,” said Eric Millis, director of the Utah Division of Water Resources. “These agreements bring considerable value to the State of Utah by providing a reliable water source and benefiting the in-stream flows of the Green and Colorado Rivers.”

The contract between Reclamation and the state of Utah permits the state to put a portion of their water right to beneficial use and provides a more reliable water source for Utah during dry years, while avoiding the need to construct costly new water storage facilities.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

Relevant Link:

2006 Record of Decision

Green River Block Water Exchange Contract Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact