National Water Resources Association
Carly Burton, Executive Director
5047 South Galleria Drive, Suite 210
Murray, UT 84123
The Utah Water Users Association was formed over 50 years ago in response to a growing need to provide a voice for all water users at the Utah Legislature and in Congress. Over the years the Association has grown into a formidable organization with over 600 members in 2013. The Association is managed by a 31-member board of directors and a 9 member executive committee, as well as an executive director.
The Utah Water Users Association is the largest active association in Utah which represents all water user entities including irrigators, municipal users, industry, federal, state, county and local agencies and private entities. The purpose of the Association is to (1) protect water rights administered under state law, (2) promote the conservation and efficient use of water, (3) provide legislative support, (4) sponsor workshops and seminars related to water issues, (5) provide technical advice to members regarding all water matters and (6) represent members on national water issues through the NWRA and other national associations. The Association will be actively involved in future state and local water issues, which benefit its members Utah has historically had among the fastest growing populations in the nation.
Understanding the critical role of water in our lives and business, the Governor’s Office began a sizable effort last year to develop a course of action to ensure water for this growing population and economy and for agriculture, recreation, tourism and the environment. This effort included 8 public listening meetings around the state, which were well-attended and provided over 800 comments as to how the state’s water future should look. The effort continues now with the Water Strategy Task Force, which is a newly formed group of stakeholders with interests in all aspects of water. The Task Force will meld the comments received with their own thoughts, experience and additional public input to develop the course of action.
Some of Utah’s concerns are listed below:
Farm Bill. Utah farmers comprise approximately 74% of all water used in the State of Utah. Many express concerns as to how the new re-authorized Farm Bill that was recently passed by the U.S. Congress will impact them in the immediate future as well as in the long term.
Drought. The significant drought over the past 5 years has created drastic measures that needed to be implemented in some areas of the state for water conservation and absolute restrictions that has affected everyone in the State of Utah in the following areas: agriculture, municipalities, counties, special service districts, private associations and companies, commercial users such as schools, parks, golf courses, churches and end users as a whole, including individual well water users.
Funding for Water Storage. The solutions to water shortages and management cannot be legislated in all instances. Past attempts have failed. There needs to be more emphasis on making funds available for additional storage facilities through local grants and/or federal funding of storage infra-structure projects, such as new reclamation facilities. Since the major projects that were constructed in the 17 western states in the 1930’s, populations have increased significantly, agriculture irrigation is required to produce more crops with less available water and shifting changes in water demands have occurred with very few new reclamation or state reservoir storage projects.
NEPA. National Environmental Protection Act requirements in many cases override the needs of the public to have sufficient water available. The balance between environmental concerns and the needs of the people should be brought back more toward the middle range for balancing water needs, rather than emphasis to the left environmental part of the spectrum for implementation and management.
Infrastructure. Utah still has significant needs for infrastructure rehabilitation and/or replacement of aging storage and transmission facilities.
Grant/Loan Funding. There needs to be funding availability either through grants or loans that can assist the water districts and water user providers to be able to mitigate the drought conditions in the west in the immediate future.
Education. There needs to be more education available to the public including lawmakers, administrators, municipalities, counties and state and federal agencies about water needs and ways to develop facilities necessary to satisfy increased demands.