Utah spending 'unprecedented' amount of money on water conservation

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Published Friday, April 29, 2022
by Merrilee Gasser | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) - Utah is set to spend an unprecedented amount of state money on water conservation and related efforts, according to Gov. Spencer Cox.

The governor's office detailed the spending in the second portion of its Coordinated Action Plan for Water. The report also suggests ways for state and local governments, businesses, and households to conserve water.

Last week, Cox issued a drought state of emergency for Utah. He said the state has been in a drought for eight of the previous 10 years.

The Utah Legislature passed a bill this year allocating $250 million for secondary meter installation. An analysis showed a reduction of 22-40% in water use when secondary meters were installed on residential connections, the report said.

Another $5 million will be spent on turf removal efforts. The money is included in House Bill 121 and will reimburse homeowners and business owners who replace all or part of their turf with drought-resistant plants, according to the governor's office. 

"Maintaining communities that are great places to live, work and play requires a holistic approach to managing water resources, including increased conservation and generational innovation," said Brian Steed, executive director of the Department of Natural Resources.

The state plans to earmark more than $100 million in general sales tax revenue for various water programs and projects.

An additional $5.25 million has been allocated for "water-saving devices." The governor's office said it is collaborating with water conservancy districts and other local governments regarding this funding.

The report includes a list of incentives to encourage individual homeowners and business owners to make decisions that are geared toward water conservation. 

Incentives through the Utah Water Savers program include a rebate of up to $100 for replacing an old toilet with a "WaterSense-labeled" toilet and up to $75 for using smart controllers for landscaping. Cash rewards are also offered for landscaping projects that meet specific criteria.

"Water conservation must be a group effort, from families and individuals to farmers, businesses and local governments," Cox said in a statement. "We all need to be part of our water solutions."

The next chapter of the Coordinated Action Plan for Water will be released in June and focuses on agriculture. 

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