Utah Legislative Session


The 2024 Utah Legislative Session has ended. While some relevant bills were passed, many that were introduced were ultimately not passed. There is still work to be done to fill gaps in existing legislation. Our priorities include efforts to advance water conservation, measurement, and shepherding. Please do your part to preserve and protect the Great Salt Lake ecosystem by contacting your representatives regarding legislation relevant to the health of Great Salt Lake.

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Passed Bills:

H.B. 11 Water Efficient Landscaping Requirements, sponsored by Rep. Owens and Sen. Winterton, originally limited installation of nonfunctional turf for new government facilities in the Great Salt Lake Basin. The bill was amended to instead restrict the use of overhead spray irrigation at new government facilities.


H.B. 61 Water Measuring and Accounting Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Albrecht and Sen. McKell "modifies the state water policy to allow for the use of telemetry in water data collection and permits the State Engineer to make rules governing telemetry and water distribution accounting. The bill also removes outdated language regarding rulemaking authority on preferences of water rights" (Smith Hartvigsen, PLLC).

Expanding the use of telemetry and distribution accounting for improved water measurement and shepherding are priorities identified by the Great Salt Lake Strike Team Report and the Great Salt Lake Commissioner's Strategic Plan.

We support this recognition of telemetry and distribution accounting within state water policy.


H.B. 62 Utah Water Ways Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Owens and Sen. Sandall, directs coordination between the nonprofit statewide partnership, Utah Water Ways, and the State Board of Education to expand education about Utah's water systems. Coordination with Utah Water Ways to enhance public education is an action identified in the Great Salt Lake Commissioner's Strategic Plan. As a provider of environmental education programming at Great Salt Lake, FRIENDS values the power of education to shape the next generation of environmental stewards.  

We support expanded education about Utah's water systems in the K-12 public education system.


H.B. 453 Great Salt Lake Revisions, sponsored by Rep. Snider and Sen. Sandall, expands on 2023's H.B. 513 to consolidate and more clearly define the management responsibilities of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fires & State Lands (DFFSL) with regard to the Lake. It would allow DFFSL, under certain circumstances, to acquire property and water rights. It would require mineral extraction operators to enter into a cooperative agreement, and it would give preference to non-consumptive technology for lithium extraction. Most importantly, H.B. 453 requires the State Engineer to establish a distribution management plan, which will function as a water budget for the Lake. This plan will set limits on what the mineral extraction companies can take from the Lake during low water years, and it will protect water conserved upstream for the benefit of the Lake from being diverted into evaporation ponds.

We support this effort to modernize oversight of mineral extraction on Great Salt Lake. Listen to our comment in support of H.B. 453 here, and find more background about mineral extraction regulations here.


S.B. 18 Water Modifications, sponsored by Sen. Sandall and Rep. Snider, refines 2023's S.B. 277 and addresses water saved through agricultural water optimization projects. S.B. 18 moves rulemaking power to the state engineer, "adding language clarifying the definition of saved water and the administrative procedures to secure its separate use and protect it from forfeiture. It also clarifies that saved water cannot increase the depletion of the underlying water right" (Smith Hartvigsen, PLLC).

Protections for saved water are critical for participants in agricultural optimization programs and shepherding saved water to Great Salt Lake, as recognized by the Great Salt Lake Commissioner's Strategic Plan. We support these protections for saved water.


S.B. 57 Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act, sponsored by Sen. Sandall and Rep. Ivory, allows the Legislature, by concurrent resolution, to prohibit the enforcement of a federal directive within the state if the Legislature determines the federal directive violates the principles of state sovereignty. The bill describes how a federal directive may violate the principles of state sovereignty and requires the Legislature to consult with the attorney general regarding the potential impact of a concurrent resolution on litigation.

We oppose S.B. 57's potential to impact agencies within the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and to undermine delegated federal programs such as the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.


S.B. 77 Water Rights Restricted Account Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Sandall and Rep. Snider, "modifies the purposes for which money in the Water Rights Restricted Account may be used. The bill adds that the Division of Water Rights may use the Account to pay for installing, operating, and maintaining water measurement infrastructure and for sharing in the costs of installing stream gauges (with the U.S. Geological Survey)" (Smith Hartvigsen, PLLC).

Installation of water measurement systems is a priority identified in the Great Salt Lake Commissioner's Strategic Plan.

We support this expanded funding pathway for water measurement infrastructure. 


Bills Not Passed:

H.B. 401 Water Usage Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Owens, is an amended version of H.B. 538, which passed the House in the 2023 Legislative Session but failed in the Senate. It prohibits the watering of lawn or turf from October 1 to April 1 in counties in the Great Salt Lake watershed. It does not apply to irrigation of trees, shrubs, gardens, newly established turf, or agriculture. Violating the prohibitions would be a civil infraction with a fine of at least $50 for the first violation and $100 for additional violations in the same year. The bill directs the Utah Division of Water Resources to report an estimate of water saved by this restriction. According to the Great Salt Lake Commissioner's Strategic Plan, 60% of Utah's residential water use goes toward outdoor irrigation. The Plan identifies municipal water conservation and quantification of water saved as actions to increase inflows committed to Great Salt Lake.

We support this effort to reduce outdoor irrigation in communities throughout the Great Salt Lake basin.


H.B. 427 Water Revisions, sponsored by Rep. King, directs the Utah Division of Water Resources and the Division of Water Rights to jointly study the creation of a water database and center.

We support the exploration of tools that can improve water measurement, management, and coordination across state agencies.


H.B. 448 State Water Program Reporting Requirements, sponsored by Rep. Ward, requires the Utah Division of Water Resources to monitor and report on the state's water optimization efforts.

We support improved coordination and monitoring of optimization programs, a priority identified in the Great Salt Lake Commissioner's Strategic Plan.


H.J.R. 27 Joint Resolution Encouraging Water-efficient Landscaping Ordinances for New Construction, sponsored by Rep. Owens and Sen. McKell, recognizes the importance of water to the state; supports water-efficient landscaping as a key strategy for meeting water optimization goals; and recommends that municipalities and counties adopt water use elements in general plans as well as water-efficient landscaping ordinances for new construction.

We support the state's encouragement of water conservation by municipalities.


S.B. 118 Water Efficiency Amendments, sponsored by Sen. McKell and Rep. Musselman, appropriates $1 million for the Utah Division of Water Resources, which will be granted to water districts for programs incentivizing the use of water-efficient landscaping in new residential development in the Great Salt Lake Basin.

We support incentives for water-efficient landscaping as Utah continues to grow.


S.B. 196 Great Salt Lake Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Blouin, directs the Great Salt Lake Commissioner to create and report on a plan to maximize the Lake's inflows in wet water years. The Great Salt Lake Commissioner's Strategic Plan recognizes the need to plan for streamflow variability and capitalize on wet years to reach target lake levels. 

We support the development of a plan to guide action and bolster Lake levels during and following above average water years.


How You Can Help:  

Contacting your representatives during and outside of the legislative session is an important responsibility and really does make a difference. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with this legislation and reach out with any questions you might have, then contact your representatives and let them know that you support initiatives to preserve and protect Great Salt Lake. 

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