In February, the Utah Division of Water Resources (“DWR”) released a draft report, Utah’s Regional M&I Water Conservation Goals, that proposes regional boundaries, goals, and practices for M&I and water conservation.
The report proposes nine water conservation regions that are consistent with the state’s river basins and Board of Water Resources River Districts and would use a 2015 water use baseline to assign each region a conservation goal for 2030, as well as projected targets conservation by 2045 and 2060 (also using 2015 as a baseline) as follows:
|Region||2030 goal*||2040 projection*||2065 projection*|
|Lower Colorado River, North||18%||25%||30%|
|Lower Colorado River, South||8%||12%||15%|
|Upper Colorado River||19%||24%||25%|
*Goals and projections represent reductions in per capital water use from 2015 use levels
At a public workshop in March, representatives from DWR and the engineering firm that was contracted to complete the report noted that the report is a draft and the details could change. They further emphasized that it focuses strictly on regional reduction in M&I water use. It does not address future water supply, new source development, or agricultural water use.
The report is a follow-on to the statewide goal set in 2000 to conserve 25% by 2025. Statewide water use has dropped 18% since 2000. This report would celebrate the success that has been made so far and build on that momentum. In addition, it complies with 2015 legislative audit report that recommends regional goals.
To meet the goals, they focus on strategies that would make conservation a way of life, rather than a sacrifice—a familiar refrain to those that followed the drought-driven water use restrictions and follow-on under the Brown administration in California. As a practical matter, they recommend a tiered pricing structure with a low base rate. Means to reduce indoor use focus on leak detection, plumbing fixture replacement, and public outreach to change indoor water use habits. Means to reduce outdoor water use focus on improving irrigation efficiency through the use of drip irrigation systems, secondary metering, and smart meters; converting to waterwise landscaping; and changing lot size and density guidelines so that lots are smaller with less irrigated space.
DWR is currently going through a public engagement process before making any changes or finalizing the report.
Written by Marta L. Weismann