Utahns are invited to weigh in on a set of recommendations for a 50-year state water strategy before those recommendations are finalized and delivered to Gov. Gary Herbert. The draft recommendations have been written over the last four years by the State Water Strategy Advisory Team, a volunteer group of water experts including researchers, the Utah climatologist, water managers, agricultural representatives, environmental advocates, elected officials and others.
Read the Draft HERE
The draft recommendations will be available for online comment at envisionutah.org from Thursday, June 15 through Monday, June 26, 2017. Utahns can give public comment at a meeting on Wednesday, June 28 from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. in the state office building auditorium. Following that public comment meeting, the advisory team will deliberate further to establish the final language of the recommendations. A final document will be delivered to Gov. Herbert on July 19.
“The future of water in Utah is immensely complex, and it will affect everyone in more ways than we realize,” said Warren Peterson, one of the chairs of the State Water Strategy Advisory Team. “The advisory team has reached some consensus on how to address that complexity, but we’re looking for Utahns across the state to weigh in before we deliver these recommendations to Gov. Herbert.”
The process to create this document began in 2013 when Gov. Herbert asked the State Water Strategy Advisory Team to make recommendations for a state water strategy that would meet Utah’s water needs through 2060 — when Utah’s population will be double what it is today. The ultimate goal of the strategy is to ensure Utah has adequate water resources to maintain a high quality of life, a healthy environment and a thriving economy for generations to come.
The advisory team is chaired by three long-time water experts, Warren Peterson, Tage Flint and Representative Tim Hawkes. Envision Utah, a nonprofit organization focused on finding collaborative solutions to Utah’s long-term challenges, helped facilitate the work of the advisory team.
Members of the advisory team have dedicated countless hours of research, intense discussion and listening to the public to write these recommendations. In addition to preparation of recommendations to Gov. Herbert, the advisory team was part of the Your Utah, Your Future effort that gathered input from more than 52,000 Utahns. Advisory team members have also taken public comments both formally and informally. An early version of the recommendations document was also open for public comment during the fall of last year.
“There’s likely never been a process like this that’s received so much public input,” said Tim Hawkes, one of the advisory team chairs. “But that’s how we have to deal with water in Utah. Every decision about how we use our water affects someone or something else downstream. So we’ve needed input from researchers and experts, but we’ve also needed input from Utah citizens — and we’ll continue to need that collaborative discussion moving forward.”
The specific recommendations are broken into 11 topics addressing different aspects of our water resources, water use and water infrastructure. In summary, the recommendations are about making decisions based not only on the best data and analysis, but also the best ideas the collective wisdom of Utah’s citizens can provide to meet our water needs and those of generations as we navigate an uncertain but promising future. The entire advisory team document is available at envisionutah.org.
Message from Lynn de Freitas, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake Executive Director and Advisory Team Member