UTAH DROUGHT

Speaker Wilson says Utah legislature is working hard on water issue

Jan 25, 2023, 9:30 PM

BYU study finds we need to stop watering as much as we are....

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson (R-Kaysville) says a l ot of work is being done during the legislative session on water issues. Photo credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

(R-Kaysville)

SALT LAKE CITY — Prior to the start of the 2023 Utah Legislative Session, it seemed like water would be a popular topic throughout the 45-day session. And a week into the session, that appears to be the case. 

House speaker Brad Wilson (R-Kaysville) joined Inside Sources hosted by Maura Carabello and Taylor Morgan to discuss what is being done in the legislature about the issue of water.

Carabello asked “We hear so much about the Great Salt Lake. This has been an issue that you have flagged personally and championed. What are you looking for? What kind of legislation will see coming up?”

“I think people are worried about that if we don’t solve our water problems long term,” Wilson said of the statewide water situation. “That the ability for kids and grandkids to live here become constrained and may not happen. And they’re also worried about how this affects quality of life.”

But specifically, about the Great Salt Lake, Wilson had good news to share. 

“The lake hit its lowest point in recorded history last fall,” Wilson said. “That’s not the good news. The good news is that we’re a foot higher than that now with all this precipitation.”

While Wilson says he would love to have another 4 to 5 feet to add to that, that’s something that is not going to happen by chance.

“And so, there’s a lot of policy levers that we’re trying to pull this session to help address it,” he said.

Bills to help water situation in Utah

One bill under consideration, according to Wilson, is one called Utah Waterways. He says it will create a framework with the state to coordinate with a nonprofit called, Utah Waterways, 

Wilson says the organization will create clear public campaign messages on how all residents can help in conserving water. The agency will also coordinate conservation grants around the state with a variety of programs.

“So, citizens and industry have this sort of one stop shop that they can go to, to help us with our water needs,” Wilson said. 

The House Speaker says another bill being worked on involves a creating committee. The committee would work with the state engineer on the Bear River and Columbia River. 

The Bear River is the primary river that supplies the Great Salt Lake, Wilson says. 

“This bill will restructure some of the ways that the management of the water compacts related to the Bear River work, with the idea of making sure we’re maximizing the amount of water that goes through the Bear down to the Great Salt Lake,” he said.

Wilson says there are also bills deealing with landscapping. He says there are a lot of people wanting to do things differently with landscaping. Furthermore, Wilson says there is additional funding for landscaping programs that are already in place. 

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard on weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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Speaker Wilson says Utah legislature is working hard on water issue