Central Advisory Council

The Central Advisory Council (CAC) is a group of water rights holders, practitioners, elected officials, water managers, and subject matter experts. The nine members of the CAC represent the central and eastern regions of Utah, ranging from Dutch John to Castle Dale to Moab. CAC members are proud of the fact they represent the communities most immediately adjacent to the Colorado River and its tributaries.

Co-Chair:  William Merkley - William is the General Manager for Uintah Water Conservancy District. Previously Assistant Manager for Intermountain Farmers Association and USDA employee. Member of the Utah Water Task Force, Utah Water Users Association Board of Directors, and the Colorado River Water Users Association Board of Trustees. Received a Bachelor of Science in Crop Science and a Biology minor. William currently resides in Tridell, Utah.

Jon Richens, PE - Jon is the Industrial Regional Sales Manager and Senior Process Engineer for WesTech Engineering with over 20 years of experience in the Water Treatment and Process Equipment Industry. A native of Price, Utah, Jon currently serves as the Chairman for the Carbon Water Conservancy District and on the Carbon County Community Economic Development Board. Jon is a member of the Water Environment Association of Utah and is a licensed Utah Professional Engineer.

Derris Russell Jones - Derris is a certified wildlife biologist with extensive experience with Utah’s wildlife and range resources. A Spring Glenn, UT resident, Derris is the River Commissioner for the Price River and the Water Master for the North Carbon Group Irrigation Company. Derris earned his Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Science from Utah State University with an emphasis in Range Management. Derris is a member of the Wildlife Society and the Boone & Crockett Club.

Jack Lytle - A resident of Dutch John since 2002, Jack currently serves as a Daggett County Commissioner. Jack has worked for Utah’s Department of Natural Resources in many different capacities since 1985 and serves as a District Conservation Officer in Daggett County. Jack earned his Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Science from Utah State University.

Susan Bellagamba - Sue is the Canyonlands Regional Director for the Nature Conservancy. She has extensive experience in conservation, stewardship, and various public lands initiatives throughout the Colorado River Basin. Sue has a long track record in working with elected officials, environmental organizations, ranchers, and land management agencies and as a River Ranger. Sue received a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources from Colorado State University and has resided in Moab since 1980.

Cody Allred - Cody is the Water Resource Manager for PacifiCorp, where he manages water supplies for its thermal generation fleet. Cody has several decades of experience interfacing with many key water resource-related external stakeholders – with a focus on managing and maintaining both water assets and important stakeholder relationships. Cody received a Bachelor’s in Earth and Environmental Science from Lehigh University.

Dex Winterton - Dex, an engineer by training and profession, is the General Manager for the Moon Lake Water Users Association. He previously served as the Assistant Manager for the Duchesne County Water Conservancy District and currently sits on the Conservancy District Board of Trustees and on the County Public Land Use Committee. Dex, a resident of Bluebell, received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Utah State University.

Bill Butcher - Bill is the President of the Price River Water Users Association, which holds the rights to the water in Scofield Reservoir. Bill is a cattle rancher from eastern Utah. He lives on a family ranch near Price. Bill received a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Utah.

Ben Musselman - Ben is the Manager for Grand Water & Sewer Service Agency where he is responsible for managing culinary water, irrigation water, and wastewater collection systems. In this capacity, Ben provides coordination and cooperation between the three local districts that form the Grand Water & Sewer Service Agency.


  • Continue to discuss key challenges and solutions for the Colorado River
  • Coordinate and share ideas with our sister councils 
  • Identify and support water conservation project proposals for the Board’s consideration 
  • Better understanding and integrating tribal concerns
  • Encourage a better understanding of what curtailment scenarios might look like in Utah among stakeholders and citizens in our region


  • Ensure Colorado River water is not dedicated to the Great Salt Lake
  • Coordinate efforts between State agencies to implement recommendations from the Metering & Gaging Gap Analysis
  • Consider directives articulated in H.C.R.1 “Encouraging a Balanced Approach to the Release of Water from Flaming Gorge” sponsored by Rep. Chew and Sen. Hinkins
  • Promote additional storage to mitigate the effects of hydrologic boom and bust cycles
  • Include and appreciate river system health
  • Plan for the loss of one-time funding
  • Establish a clear vision for Utah’s future on the river, confronting challenges with bold and innovative solutions  - “Defending Every Drop”