SALT LAKE CITY — With 100% of the state experiencing drought conditions, Gov. Spencer Cox joined water officials from around the state Thursday. He highlighted current conservation efforts and outlined measures needed to plan for Utah’s water future.
Gov. Cox said, “This drought has caused all of us to reevaluate how we conserve and motivated us to do more. So many Utahns are doing their part to save water, which is fantastic, but there’s much more we can do.”
Utah’s water agencies are in the process of developing a comprehensive state water plan that builds on the previous version developed by the Division of Water Resources. The governor announced four focus areas the state will fast-track to further advance water conservation and water planning:
- Install secondary water meters statewide: Areas that have installed secondary meters — including Spanish Fork, Saratoga Springs and Weber Basin Water Conservancy District — have seen a reduction in water use by about 20-30%.
- Integrate land use and water planning: As one of the fastest growing states in the nation, water needs to be a key consideration of any new development. The state is enlisting the help of local officials in adopting water efficiency standards for all new development.
- Continue investing in agricultural optimization: Over the last few years, about $7.3 million has been invested in agricultural optimization for research and projects. Continued investment will help the state improve agricultural water use practices, create benefits for farmers, optimize water use, and protect water quantity and quality for all uses in the system.
- Establish a statewide turf buyback program: Outdoor water use makes up about 60% of municipal and industrial water use. Turf buyback programs like Jordan Valley’s “Flip Your Strip” program help incentivize people to replace thirsty grass with waterwise options.
The U.S. Drought Monitor categorizes 100% of the state as “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. By comparison, this time last year just over 1% was in the “extreme” category, with nowhere in “exceptional” drought.
Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Brian Steed, St. George Mayor Michele Randall, Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District General Manager Bart Forsyth, Central Utah Water Conservancy District Water Conservation Manager Ricky Maloy and others attended the announcement at the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District’s Conservation Garden in West Jordan.