Utah Growing Water Smart


Planning for water resources and land use have historically been conducted separately. Yet, where and how we build impacts the quantity of water needed and the quality of water that supports our communities and ecosystems. In addition, Utah is navigating significant water supply limitations, requiring local jurisdictions to fundamentally rethink water use and to assume new leadership roles.

Elected officials, water resources managers, and land use planners can increase resilience and create water smart communities even as populations grow by collaborating to identify and implement strategies that address local and regional water concerns.



The Growing Water Smart workshop brings key community staff and decision-makers on water and land use planning together to collaborate to help build a more resilient and sustainable water future. The workshop uses a range of public engagement, planning, communication, and policy implementation tools to help community teams realize their water efficiency, smart growth, watershed health, and water resiliency goals.

The Utah Division of Water Resources, along with the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy (a center of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy), Western Resource Advocates, and the Center for Water Efficient Landscaping at Utah State University, is accepting applications from communities in the Great Salt Lake watershed that are interested in participating in the GWS workshop.

Workshop Details

Check back for more details on upcoming trainings!

Workshop FAQs

Insight. A better understanding of how land use, growth, and climate trends impact water supply and demand at the state and local level.

Flexibility. Identification of strategies and tools to integrate water and land use planning at the local level to better adapt to change and uncertainty.

Engagement. Decision-makers from multiple disciplines, departments, agencies, and organizations establish common goals around water and growth.

Clarity. Clear and concise language to communicate goals around water resilience and gain support for proposed actions.

Collaboration. A regional professional relationship exchange with your peers. A path forward. An action plan tailored to your community’s needs. 

Follow up. Post-workshop resources to carry out your goals.  

The Growing Water Smart workshop offers your team the time to collaborate and focus on the water resource challenges that are influencing your community’s growth and development. The program consists of the following elements:

Team-Oriented Work Sessions: Teams assess community data, trends, and existing policies; develop succinct messaging around water; identify strategies to become water resilient; and develop an action plan to implement these strategies. Sessions are facilitated by professionals in the field who guide teams through strategic discussions.

Learning Best Practices: Presentations and written materials provide key knowledge around integrating water conservation, efficiency, reuse, and watershed protection into existing and future development.

Peer-to-Peer Networking: Participants meet and exchange ideas with peers from other jurisdictions.

Upon workshop completion, teams become eligible to apply for technical assistance from the GWS-Utah team for up to 100 hours of support to help carry out a water and land use integration strategy identified in the team’s workshop action plan. Previous projects have included:

  • Land use code audits and policy recommendations
  • The inclusion of water in general plan updates
  • Collaborative stakeholder engagement and facilitation
  • Metrics to associate water use with land use types

More specific criteria will be included when the next training is open for applications.

This workshop is designed to support a collaborative team committed to taking local action. Applicants are encouraged to build a team of 5 to 7 individuals who possess a diversity of knowledge, skills, and perspectives needed to secure the community’s water future, such as:

  • Current and long-range land use planners (required)
  • Water utility and water resource managers (required)*
  • Elected and appointed officials (strongly recommended)
  • Economic development departments
  • Sustainability and resilience officers
  • Parks and public works staff
  • Regional planning organizations
  • Local nonprofit organizations
  • Community task force members
  • Consultants on current water and land use efforts

*May include wholesale water providers, such as conservancy districts

To participate in our Growing Water Smart program, please submit answers to the following five questions on the application page.

Please limit responses to 250-500 words per question.

  1. Team Composition: Names, titles, affiliation, and email addresses of 5-7 team members. Please identify who will serve as the team lead for pre-workshop communication.
  2. Water Awareness: Describe your current and projected water challenges, particularly around balancing water supply and demand, but also around stormwater management, integrated water resource management, and watershed health, as applicable. How well do decision-makers and the community understand and prioritize these challenges?
  3. Planning and Policy: What plans, policies, and programs are currently in place in your community that address water in new and existing development? How well are they being implemented? What new initiatives are in progress related to water and land use planning integration?
  4. Community Readiness: How are your land use planners and water resource managers currently collaborating around water and land use? Please describe any opportunities or challenges that you want to address during this workshop.
  5. Desired Outcomes: What does your community hope to achieve from participation in the Growing Water Smart workshop? How does your community believe it will benefit from better integration of water and land use planning? Please be as specific as possible.

Competitive applications will propose interdisciplinary teams capable of crafting and implementing effective action plans. Include senior and elected/appointed leaders and staff tasked with managing water and land resources to ensure community sustainability and resilience. If this is a multi-jurisdictional proposal, representatives from each community should be on the team and in a common pursuit.

Teams will be selected based on:

  • Team composition.
  • Ability to demonstrate local commitment toward addressing water sustainability and resiliency.
  • Description of current and projected local water conditions and uncertainties associated with meeting future water needs.
  • Capacity to foster dialogue or partnerships among agencies and entities overseeing land use planning and water resource management.

Application deadline information to be announced.

Water conversations that have been stalled out for months are already moving forward, and we’re already starting to see the benefits of the networks and connections the workshop helped us build. It was an incredible opportunity, and I’m excited to keep the momentum going.
Hannah Salzl, Sustainability Coordinator, Provo City, UT (November 2022 Workshop Participant)
The content was incredible, but I would also say that getting key participants away from the day-to-day needs of their jobs and into an intensive workshop where facilitators help them create a framework for smart water use and growth - that was priceless. The work would just never get done without a venue like this.
Workshop Participant, June 2023
The workshop was extremely valuable. The content was presented in a way that was engaging and informative without being overhanded or overreaching. The breakout sessions were helpful and led by experts who helped guide the conversation and promote participation. I came away from the workshop energized and informed, wanting to reach out to our community to help make meaningful changes to our conversations about smart water growth. I am looking forward to continuing to learn and participating in future conversations.
William Cobabe, Senior Planner, Weber County, UT (November 2022 Workshop Participant)

Utah Growing Water Smart Informational Webinar

To learn more about the Utah Growing Water Smart workshop, you can watch the recording of this informational webinar. The webinar was held and recorded on July 7.

To learn more, please visit the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy, where you can find a short video about what it means to be Growing Water Smart.

Contact Information

For specific questions about the workshop or application, please contact:

Lindsay Rogers, Western Resource Advocates

For specific questions about the Growing Water Smart Program, please contact:
Rachel Shilton, Utah Division of Water Resources

For general questions, please contact:

Visit growingwatersmartutah.org for more information.

Funding for Utah Growing Water Smart provided by the Utah Division of Water Resources, Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy, and Utah State University Extension.

Similar workshops are offered in Arizona, California, and Colorado.

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