Document Type


Publication Date

January 1983


Water institutions are highly diffused throughout society. These institutions interact with one another in various ways. As water needs and services expand, collaborative and cooperative arrangements are commonly sought as a means of meeting common goals of providing a safe, dependable adn least cost water supply to particular constituencies. Of the many different institutions involved in the development, managment, distribution, and use of water, perhaps the most significant in terms of extensive interactions with other institutions is the kind that is typified by Water Conservancy Districts and Metropolitan Water Districts in Utah. The statutory and operating framework of counterpart organizations in Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon, and South Dakota are compared in this report. Significant differences in procedures for creation and termination, selection of officers, powers and legal rights, opportunity for input to policy formulation, sources of financiing, planning responsibility, and coordination are identified. Interstate comparisons provide the backdrop for more specific examination of the interactions of districts in Utah with other organizations and agencies. The results indicate that districts have tended to embrace large scale projects as solutions to projected water shortages. The continuing and long term financial obligation constrains the districts flexibility to adjust to alternative supply options that may become visible to retail users as demand patterns change during the drawn out construction schedules of large projects. Because the Conneville Unit of the Central Utah Project is presently engaged in a large and active investigative and construction program, and is negotiating water purchase contracts, examples of some of the kinds of impediments to effective institutional interaction were more readily identified in that region by those interviewed. In situations where institutional differences occur, their mediation could be more readily effected if districts were more directly linked to general purpose government and particularly to state oversight. State government might promote more harmonious coordination of district operations by inviting periodic full and open appraisal of district plans and policies in a search for mid-course corrections that might better serve the public interest without abrogating contractual commitments.