Utah’s latest water conservation commitments

During the 2022 legislative session, Utah lawmakers passed 18 bills directly dealing with water conservation, according to water conservation group Preserve60 in its latest review of water conservation actions. the state.

Utah’s major water conservation districts have offered money-for-grass programs, sprinkler replacements, toilet rebates, and secondary meter installations for more than 20 years, among a variety other conservation programs. The total investment over these decades of effort will now be combined with a record amount of funding made available in the 2022 legislative session, as lawmakers passed 18 bills directly addressing water conservation.

“This unprecedented investment in water conservation by our state leaders is music to our ears,” said Zach Renstrom, executive director of the Washington County Water Conservancy District. “Water conservation districts have made great strides in reducing water use statewide, but recent legislation will elevate our efforts.”

Secondary water metering was a priority area, with $251 million allocated statewide. The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District (WBWCD) has been pushing to install secondary meters since 2000 and has tracked a 20-30% reduction in outdoor use when meters are installed.

“We prioritized this effort beginning in 2010. To date, juggling other requests, we’ve been able to invest approximately $15 million,” said Scott Paxman, WBWCD’s chief executive. “We fought a good fight, but this new investment will be a game changer. We know counting helps.

Utah’s Prepare60 Water Conservation Districts (comprising Central Utah, Weber Basin, Jordan Valley and Washington County) have released the Utah Water Infrastructure Plan. state (SWIP).

SWIP is the most comprehensive long-term forecast of statewide water needs, organized by river basin through 2070. Latest data indicates that Utah will need to invest $38 billion to meet demands of growth by 2060. That breaks down to $20.6 billion for repair. and replacement of aging infrastructure and $17.6 billion for new infrastructure, water supply and water supplier conservation costs.

“We applaud and salute the state’s investment specifically in water conservation initiatives in the 2022 legislative session. Conservation is only one piece of the puzzle. Water Conservation Districts of Prepare60 have long insisted that conservation be the first priority, followed by repair/replacement of existing infrastructure and new projects, making it a viable and stable approach to water,” said Gene Shawcroft, Managing Director of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District.

The Legislature allocated an additional $5 million for turf replacement, which was a popular program as Utah experienced harsh drought conditions in 2021. The Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District began seriously funding projects for landscaping in 2016 and spent more than $1.3 million on water-efficient landscaping incentives. over the past five years.

Utah’s water conservation districts have spent more than $355 million on conservation programs. The result is a more than 20% reduction in the state’s per capita water use since 2000, despite a nearly 58% increase in population.

“Next-generation water policy planning cannot be considered in silos, either geographically or jurisdictionally,” said Bart Forsyth, executive director of the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District. “Much of Utah shares the same water resources, so we need to work together from a statewide perspective.”

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