Utah water experts meet in St. George for conference, share drought concerns
ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – It’s a full house with more than 800 state and federal leaders taking a closer look at Utah’s water issues.
“Gives us an update this time of year, to understand what the water supply is going to look like for the upcoming year,” says Gene Shawcroft, Utah’s Colorado River Commissioner.
They’re meeting for the annual Water Users Conference and of course, the drought is the number one concern.
“Lake Powell is lower than its ever been, Lake Mead is lower than its ever been, Great Salt Lake is lower than its ever been, and though we have a pretty good projection on our snowpack which is above 90% we still believe our runoff will be in the 70% range which really creates some concern for all water users,” says Shawcroft.
“So the one thing we’ve learned during this drought scenario is how important reservoirs are in storing water,” says Zachary Renstrom, Washington County Water Conservancy District’s general manager.
Nearly $500 million worth of legislative bills have been passed this year. Leaders say now there are firmer regulations with water conservation.
House Bill 39 requires more efficient plumping fixtures in updated construction codes and Senate bill 89 modifies water conservation plan requirements.
“Most cities in the state of Utah right now have general plans, they talk about where they want growth to occur, now this is just adding another element, saying where are you going to get that water, for the growth to occur,” says Renstrom.
Shawcroft says House Bill 242 will require metering of secondary water systems for untreated water, which wasn’t measured at households before.
“It’s been measured as it flows into the system, but this will allow residents to understand how much water they use, and by measuring there’s no question that the efficiency will go up,” he says.
While the bodies of water Utah relies on are at historic lows, leaders say with these bills, they are hopeful as the state continues to grow.