ENVIRONMENT

Could farmers sell their water to the Great Salt Lake?

Jan 8, 2024, 4:00 PM

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SALT LAKE CITY — A new initiative will be presented in the upcoming legislative session. It’s a program that would allow farmers to sell their water to the State of Utah and be sent to the Great Salt Lake. Representative Doug Owens is sponsoring this initiative and believes it’s a win-win proposal.

“Farmers will be able to opt in on a given season. It’s not something they have to sign up for permanently. It lets them do it one season at a time if it makes sense for their circumstances,” Representative Doug Owens told KSL NewsRadio.

If the initiative passes, the pilot program could start as early as this summer. It seems that many people are on board.

“Farm Bureau is supportive of this program if it gets set up. So we’ve got farmer support for it,” said Owens.

Some years, this program will be more popular than others.  The water year will have a lot to do with the amount of participation.

“What sometimes happens in a wet year like what we just had, there can be excess water that they don’t necessarily need. In those cases it may make sense for individual farmers to lease water to the state,” said Owens.

Even if there is not an amazing water year, depending on how much the state is willing to pay for the water, it may still make sense for farmers to sell. They may find it a better option than trying to do one more late-season crop that may not produce much.

To pass, the initiative will need to be approved by several committees. Then, it will be sent to the House and Senate for approval.

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Could farmers sell their water to the Great Salt Lake?