Constructing on the Generational Development in Nice Salt Lake Water Insurance policies adopted in 2022, a spread of extra water and watershed associated issues got here to the forefront in the course of the Utah Legislative Session. These embody substantial investments and coverage adjustments looking for to place the state on a observe to handle its water assets throughout the limits of provide, whereas permitting for continued well-being of Utah’s communities and wildlife.

This text focuses on the most important water payments which have extra to do with statewide coverage—we did a roundup of the most important laws involving Nice Salt Lake (Half 1) earlier this month.

Most of the coverage adjustments targeted on lowering water consumption charges, creating versatile water-sharing approaches, and recognizing the position the watersheds and pure surroundings play within the water cycle and Utah’s vitality.  These approaches embody water conservation and agricultural water optimization to cut back water consumption, bettering our understanding of water flows and diversions, and versatile instream circulate provisions that may profit agriculture and the surroundings.

We’re grateful to the Utah Legislature, state companies, and different key stakeholders who labored collaboratively to supply public funds and coverage instruments that meet the second.

Agricultural Water Optimization

The Utah legislature appropriated $50 million in 2022 (to complement $20 million in funding appropriated in November 2021) for agricultural water optimization to cut back agricultural water use, keep or enhance agriculture manufacturing and profitability, whereas creating alternatives for elevated operational flexibility. Further objectives might be to enhance and measure real-time water diversions and doc water use and financial savings, in addition to enhance and shield the standard of each floor and groundwater.  

This builds on the 2018 laws, as amended, creating an Agricultural Water Optimization Activity Pressure and former funding to judge methods and applied sciences to enhance water quantification, enhance agriculture manufacturing whereas lowering agricultural water diversion and consumption.

We stay up for seeing this funding help agriculture and water programs all through the state, together with the Nice Salt Lake watershed, notably in methods that may profit the lake hydrology. Extra particulars on eligibility for the grant program, go to the Utah Division of Agriculture and Meals web site. 

Water Conservation and Measuring Water Use

Numerous payments and funding have been aimed toward lowering water consumption and bettering measurement and monitoring of water use. These embody:

  • Out of doors Landscaping – Water Conservation Modifications – HB121 requires state-owned authorities services to cut back water consumption for out of doors landscaping (5% by 2023 and 25% by 2025); limits the quantity of turf at newly constructed state-owned services and places in place out of doors watering and irrigation system necessities. Moreover, the invoice establishes an incentive program to pay non-public landowners to take away turf, resembling garden or park strips in alternate for putting in drought resistant landscaping. The legislature authorized an preliminary appropriation of $5 million for these turf elimination incentives.
  • Secondary Water Metering – HB242 – with sure slender exceptions, requires suppliers of secondary water to put in meters for all secondary programs (pre-existing) by January 1, 2030. Moreover, the invoice extends the requirement for putting in secondary meters on new development to extra rural counties by 2022. The invoice additionally gives for a grant program to secondary water suppliers to assist pay for the prices of set up, with bigger grants within the early years to incentivize fast transition. Analysis has proven – even with out extra charges – month-to-month experiences explaining how a lot water a residence is utilizing results in decreased water use. A 2018 State of Utah Report famous a discount of 33.7 p.c as soon as a secondary meter is put in.

The legislature appropriated $200 million within the 2022 legislative session for the secondary metering program, along with $50 million that was appropriated in November 2021 for secondary metering.

  • Water Smart Landscaping Amendments – HB282 prohibits municipalities, counties, or house owner associations from stopping property house owners from putting in water sensible landscaping. Such landscaping contains crops suited to micro-climates and soil circumstances that require minimal watering and with out overhead spray irrigation; panorama designs that use minimal irrigation or scale back space devoted to turf.
  • Water as A part of Basic Plan – SB110 requires municipal and county plans to include a water use and preservation aspect as a part of normal planning and to account for the impact of several types of land use classes on water demand. These necessities are to be applied by 2025.

Numerous water coverage suggestions developed over the previous few years have advocated for incorporating water and land use planning – as a land-use determination units in movement a long-term water demand. These stakeholder processes included the 2017 Really useful State Water Technique and the 2020 Nice Salt Lake HCR10 Steering Group Suggestions to assist keep satisfactory flows to Nice Salt Lake and experiences and research commissioned by the Nice Salt Lake Advisory Council, in addition to the State Water Coverage.

In 2021, Part 1 of a undertaking to help cities and counties combine water and land use was funded by the Nice Salt Lake Advisory Council, resulting in the event of a framework and toolkit that communities can use to evaluate present standing and gaps. Moreover, in 2021, the Utah legislature appropriated $270,000 in funding for a program to help cities and counties combine water and land use planning. That is Part 2 and is being kicked off with a Utah rising water sensible program that can embody workshops and technical help. Learn extra right here.

  • Water Reporting – SB89 requires water suppliers to undertake water conservation plans with objectives no less than as stringent because the state regional conservation objectives until affordable justification is supplied as to why the regional conservation purpose can’t be met. The water supplier’s charge constructions additionally have to be set out of their water conservation plans. Failure to conform might lead to a lack of eligibility for state funding. The invoice additionally requires the state to judge and undertake water conservation objectives each ten years.
  • Water Reporting Amendments – HB393 authorizes the Division of Water rights to review present and novel use of water within the state, together with quantifying the impacts to the water cycle of producing electrical energy by varied power kinds, together with coal, electrolysis (hydrogen), photo voltaic, and lots of different types of electrical energy technology. Funding of $150,000 was appropriated for the water for energy research.
  • Water Associated Gross sales & Use Tax Amendments – HB 221 creates a brand new water rights restricted account with sure gross sales and use tax going to Division of Water Rights to pay for staffing, gear, research, and authorized (as much as $8M at finish of fiscal yr).
  • State Innovation Amendments – HB326 gives for the Governor’s Workplace of Financial Alternative (GOEO) in coordination with the Utah Divisions of Water Sources and Water High quality to award grants to for-profit or non-profit entities to implement tasks to enhance air high quality or water conservation or environment friendly water useful resource utilization. GOEO is to develop objectives and aims for the tasks and challenge a public solicitation for participation in a pilot program. Initiatives underneath the pilot program have to be accomplished by July 1, 2026.
  • Watershed Restoration Initiative – HB 131 establishes the Water Restoration Initiative (WRI) throughout the Division of Pure Sources. The insurance policies and aims of WRI are to “handle, restore, and enhance watershed ecosystems by the state” targeted on bettering watershed well being, organic variety, water high quality and yields, in addition to alternatives for sustainable makes use of of pure assets. The invoice formalizes the WRI program that has sat throughout the Division of Pure Sources for 15 years. WRI’s efforts might be coordinated with federal, state, native or different companions and packages. WRI is required to “develop and oversee a watershed restoration undertaking proposal course of to develop statewide watershed restoration priorities that embody rating standards”. A Water Restoration Expendable Particular Income Fund was established to just accept grants and donations and different funding can be by appropriations.  

Different Measures

  • Preferences of Water Rights – HB168 Authorizes the state engineer to review how the state ought to handle water proper preferences in instances of a short lived water scarcity emergency, together with course of and compensation. A report is due in November of 2022. The invoice additionally features a part prioritizing water use preferences in a short lived water scarcity emergency, however the provision doesn’t go into impact till Could of 2023.  A short lived water scarcity emergency could not exceed one yr and happens when there’s a water scarcity mixed with Governor’s emergency declaration for a chosen geographic area. The preferences embody consuming, sanitation, electrical energy technology and fireplace suppression and a requirement for compensation to different water customers whose water use is interrupted, together with the worth of the water loss, crop losses and different associated consequential damages.
  • Colorado River Authority of Utah Amendments – Tribal illustration – one yr after the creation of the Utah Colorado River Authority (HB 297), the legislature adopted SB160 offering for tribal illustration on the Authority. The invoice provides a seventh member, appointed by the Governor, who’s “a member of a federally acknowledged Indian tribe if the tribe is, in complete or partly, positioned throughout the state and throughout the Colorado River system.” The invoice additionally directs the Authority to “search an applicable government-to-government relationship on issues instantly associated to” its authority and mission “with all federally acknowledged Indian tribes positioned, in complete or partly, throughout the state and throughout the Colorado River system.” The invoice, nevertheless, did make a change that requires the Authority to undertake insurance policies by decision, relatively than particularly complying with the Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act when adopting coverage. The Authority additionally acquired $8 for implementing a administration plan and ongoing funding was elevated by $900,000 to $1,800,000 yearly for administration.

The tempo at which water coverage has modified in Utah in the previous few years and notably in 2022 is astounding. Implementing constructive adjustments would require important effort and coordination amongst  stakeholders throughout state.