Who can implement this: State, county, and city lawmakers; communities; governmental organizations; advocacy organizations; agricultural producers; and water conservancy districts
All water in the Jordan River Basin is connected. Water across the basin is used for a variety of residential, agricultural, and other purposes at different points within the watershed. Different cities, communities, and individuals should work together to use this water more efficiently and to conserve water on a basin-wide scale.
However, many of these efficiency and conservation efforts need to first be explored and incentivized by the county, its cities, and regional water agencies. Because changing water usage behavior currently has no personal benefits, many individuals have few incentives to work toward more efficient water use. And though some conservation measures may decrease the amount of water diverted, they may also increase the overall depletion throughout the basin. For this reason, conservation is best looked at from a basin-wide perspective.
Cities across Utah also face challenges in managing water and water rights within their municipalities. Oftentimes these cities end up stockpiling water, which they do not know how to best use. Assisting cities in managing their water rights will help preserve water, encourage a broader understanding of water in the basin, and avoid artificial shortages when allocating water to different uses. Many conservation measures, such as maintaining or lining ditches or canals, could also benefit from greater assistance from the state or other entities.
Regional Water Agencies can fill in these gaps in knowledge and management and allow regions to pool resources. They also allow water issues to be discussed and solved on more local scales, avoiding statewide political battles that are all too common when discussing water in Utah.
- Lawmakers, government organizations, and nonprofit organizations should support projects that conserve water such as: drip irrigation systems, lining canals, soil management, and developing efficient irrigation equipment.
- State, county, and city officials should incentivize water conservation at larger scales.
- Organizations and policymakers should help producers and communities gain a broader understanding of water systems and water management in order to motivate county residents to be more efficient when using water.
- State, county, and city lawmakers should provide financial motivators like tax breaks and tax credits for producers and community members who conserve water and/or implement better water conservation practices.
- The Utah legislature, the Utah County Commission, and individual city councils should encourage and support existing organizations that manage and conserve water on a regional scale in Utah County and throughout the state. Organizations like Regional Water Agencies or Water Conservancy Districts can serve as a powerful tool for regions looking to more efficiently use and conserve their water.
- Based on support from community and local lawmakers, state legislators would need to implement changes to water management structure.
- Depending on the needs of residents and the goals of implementing changes, individual districts should be created on a basin-wide, county, or community scale.
California’s Department of Water Resources focuses on Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) as a way for regional water managers and management groups to make local and regional investments in water infrastructure and tackle local water issues. California has 48 IRWM regions, which cover 87% of the state’s geographic area and 99% of the state’s population. Each region has its own challenges and resources available to address water issues. California’s IRWM served an important role during the 2014 drought, allowing different geographic areas across the state to conserve water and combat unique challenges on both regional and statewide scales.