President Barack Obama has named Anne Castle as assistant secretary for water and science in the Department of the Interior.
A lawyer, she has extensive bckground water rights. According to the Obama Administration’s release on the appointment:
Anne Castle joined Holland & Hart LLP as a lawyer in 1981 and became a partner in 1987. She is a practitioner in water rights and water quality law, and has over twenty-five years of experience in water rights practice. She has represented a wide variety of clients in water court litigation, including adjudications of water rights, changes in water rights and plans for augmentation, and appeals. She has also represented clients in numerous water rights and water quality administrative proceedings. Her practice includes water rights conveyancing, contracts for purchase, use, and supply of water, and the evaluation and assessment of water rights.
Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has nominated Kent L. Jones as the new Utah State Engineer and Director of the Division of Water Rights. The nomination has been sent to the Utah Senate for consideration. If approved by the Senate, Jones will officially replace Jerry Olds, who retired in December 2008.
“Water is one of our most monumentally important natural resources and is the key to our continued growth and success,” Governor Huntsman said. “Kent has done a great job for the state and I am glad he will continue to serve in this critical capacity.”
Jones has been responsible for reviewing all applications filed for water use in the state. His experience also includes directing the well drilling program, dam inspections and administering the Stream Channel Alteration program.
The fight with Nevada over the Snake Valley water is just one of the high profile projects that Jones will inherit.
A just-published background article in Forbes online declares businessman T. Boone Pickens as the largest owner of groundwater rights in the United States.
A passage: “Pickens, 80, is also the largest private holder of permitted groundwater rights in the U.S. through Mesa Water, Inc. Pickens hopes to acquire the rights to sell 320,000 acre-feet of water annually to Texas municipalities, satisfying the annual needs of approximately 1.5 million Texans. Selling as much water as Mesa could pump would result in $165 million worth of water to Dallas each year.”
Seven-year state water director Jerry Olds, 57, said he plans to retire as state engineer around the end of the year. Olds has worked for the Utah Division of Water Rights since 1972.
He has had some disagreements in recent years with the state legislature, which has reduced the scope of the office somewhat, effectively giving more authority to water courts. [Salt Lake Tribune, October 23]