ENVIRONMENT

Resolution asks municipalities to boost water conservation efforts

Feb 19, 2024, 10:00 AM

great salt lake shown, a bill to preserve the lake has passed...

I-80 near the Great Salt Lake on Feb. 7, 2023. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY–A Utah lawmaker is encouraging cities and counties to step up water conservation efforts before asking farmers to change their water practices. 

During a Friday hearing for the Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment, Rep. Doug Owens, D-Millcreek, was surprised by the number of municipalities without a water conservation ordinance.

Owens is proposing a joint resolution that calls on cities and counties from Alta to Pleasant Grove to Saratoga Springs to determine their own conservation measure for new construction and stick to it.

According to Owens, there’s a narrative that agriculture uses the most water going to Great Salt Lake.

“They’re thinking that their water solution is going to come from taking water from farmers. And I don’t think we should be doing that ever unless the municipal water users have their act together,” Owens said. 

Recent studies show that 65% of the water that flows into the lake goes to agriculture. However, Owens also found that cities and counties don’t have a water conservation rule on the books. He says it misses the point to call on agriculture users to do more when they have done so much.

“There’s certainly no requirement for new construction to incorporate water efficient standards,” Owens continued. 

The proposed resolution is non-binding, but it would call for these cities and counties to choose a law for conserving water. 

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Resolution asks municipalities to boost water conservation efforts