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Health, Science & Environment

Utah Foundation Water Report Recommends More Users Should Pay For What They Use

Flickr: Ricardo Bernardo

The Utah Foundation has released a new report on the state’s water outlook in the face of what is expected to be huge population growth over the next 35 years. 

The report is the third in a series of studies looking at the impacts population growth will have on Utah. It looked at the challenges Utah’s water supply could be facing and came with several recommendations, including moving away from funding water agencies with property taxes, and toward funding them with increased water rates.

Mallory Bateman is a research analyst with the Utah Foundation.  She says this recommendation is aimed at helping people better conserve water.

“Compared to other western cities, our rates are significantly lower," she says. "Part of it is due to property tax revenues going towards things that, maybe water users should be paying for. Basically if you’re using more, you should be paying more.”

Zach Frankel is the executive director of the environmental group, Utah Rivers Council. He says he’s fully behind the Utah Foundation’s recommendations.

“Certainly, making users pay the full cost of their water use in their bill is the most sensible way to adapt to the future of both climate change, and an increasing population.”

While the Utah Foundation researchers consulted with many of the key water stakeholders in the state before releasing their report, several directors of water conservancy districts have said they disagree with the recommendation to rely more heavily on water usage fees. But Mallory Bateman says she’s ok with the dissent, and hopes that the report leads to leaders of municipalities and water districts having more useful conversations and collaborations.

“As an impartial third party, we’re saying we need a little bit of clarity," she says. "And so, hopefully these discussions will end up creating solutions that are going to work in the future.”

While this report is focused mainly on municipal and industrial water usage, Bateman says they hope to be able to take a deeper look at agricultural water use in the future. 

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