With one of the fastest-growing populations in the US and an increasingly arid climate, there is a growing demand for Utah’s water. Secondary water can help, if we meter and use it wisely!
Utah needs to act now to achieve a sustainable water supply for its current and future residents. The good news is that Utah has an untapped water source: secondary water.
Secondary water is untreated water usually from a stream or lake that can be used seasonally on outdoor landscapes lawn (e.g. residential lawns, parks, etc.). Currently, the majority of secondary water systems are unmetered–meaning Utahns have no idea how much water is being used in any given area. And that is a real problem.
Secondary water metering can go a long way toward ensuring Utah uses its current water supplies efficiently while alleviating the need for expensive diversion projects. This means more water will stay in Utah’s river and streams–like the Great Salt Lake–which provides important habitat for fish and wildlife.
Fortunately, this year Utah state lawmakers took a step in the right direction by approving Senate Bill 52. This bill, which is on the Governor’s desk, does three notable things:
- It requires all new connections to secondary water to be metered, starting April 1, 2020;
- It requires secondary water providers to develop a plan by the end of 2019 for metering all existing connections;
- It enables the Board of Water Resources to loan $10 million annually for secondary water metering projects.
In addition, secondary water providers will annually report data about water deliveries and usage to the Division of Water Rights, and a task force is being established to address the cost and implementation challenges so that small providers can more easily benefit from the program.
This bill does not go as far as the originally proposed version, which would have set a date by which all new and existing connections had to be metered. However, this is a first for Utah; we look forward to seeing it become law, and we hope to keep improving the law in coming years. Sign our petition to show your support for common-sense water conservation methods like secondary water metering.