There is no life without water. Water is a precious resource here in the Utah, supporting every aspect of our lives, from the water you use at home, to the water we use to grow food, to the water that supports our multi-billion dollar recreation industry. Yet, we don't have a single legislator with expertise in water. I think it's time we had a water scientist in the legislature.
There is a lot our legislature should be doing to be better stewards of water in Utah. Despite last-minute efforts in the 2022 legislative session, we remain at risk of losing the Great Salt Lake. Our reservoirs are at historically low levels. We are still dealing with many outdated water laws that incentivize waste. Utah Lake is on the road to recovery, yet many in the legislature want to give it away to developers to build a fantasy-land of artificial islands, which is likely to create a disaster that Utah tax-payers may be paying for decades to clean up. We need more legislators who know more, and care more, about water.
How can we fix our water problems? What will I advocate for?
The current drought is putting a lot of stress on our water resources and ecosystems. But the more near-term problem is that the state has created too much bureaucracy over who manages different kinds of water and ultimately the state has over-allocated water rights. When water rights are issued, people build their livelihoods around it. When the water rights can't be filled or have to be rescinded, people get hurt and there are damaging ripple effects in our economy and communities. I will advocate for legislation that ensures the state takes a more conservative approach to allocating new water rights, so people who have water know they can count on keeping it.
Another large, fixable problem with how the state deals with water is that we have created artificial boundaries between groundwater and surface water. In reality, water doesn't work that way...it's all the same water and what happens underground affects surface water and vice versa. Currently, one person's surface water right may be sucked dry by someone else's groundwater pumping. I will advocate for legislation that moves us in the direction of 'one water', incentivizing better integrated management of our surface water and groundwater, source water, storm water, and waste water.