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Almost $9 Billion Needed for Salt Lake Valley Water Supply

Whittney Evans
Mike Wilson, General Manager of the Salt Lake and Sandy Metropolitan water district at the Terminal Reservoir project site.

Local business and government leaders say they need nearly $9 billion to protect existing water resources in the Salt Lake Valley and provide enough water to keep up with demand for the next half century.

More than 450,000 people in the Salt Lake Valley get their drinking water from this source, a set of concrete reservoirs in Millcreek near Parley’s Canyon. 

The Salt Lake Aqueduct terminal reservoir is where water traveling from the Deer Creek reservoir collects and is distributed to Salt Lake and Sandy City businesses and residents. 

Mike Wilson is General Manager of the Salt Lake and Sandy Metropolitan water district. He says they’re about midway through an overhaul of the 40 million gallon underground water storage facility.

“As those pipelines in the water reservoirs age, they need to be replaced,” Wilson says. “And that’s what you’re getting a glimpse of here is what that activity looks like.”

The structure was built in 1951. The $42 million restoration project should sustain the facility through the next century. But it’s just one example of the work that’s needed to keep the water supply safe and abundant over the next five decades says Michael Merrill, director of public policy with the Salt Lake Chamber. In a partnership with the four major water districts in the region, the chamber this week is highlighting the impact of water availability of the economy.

“There’s not a single business that doesn’t use water,” Merrill says. “And it effects every single sector of businesses in our state, and as we look at our projected population growth, the business community feels this is a good time to inject their voice into the conversation of why it’s important for economic development.”

The projects will likely mean higher impact fees and user charges for consumers as new water facilities are constructed and existing facilities like the terminal reservoir in Millcreek are repaired and replaced. But a report released this week from the chamber shows Utah’s economy could see TRILLIONS of dollars in return by investing in water resources statewide. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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