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PM Brief: Women’s March Madness, rain barrels return & taxpayer scorecard

Photo of water draining from the drain pipe into a container.
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Eleven municipalities from Salt Lake, Utah and Summit counties are offering discounted rain barrels for residents. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2022

Northern Utah

Utah Rivers Council overseeing rain barrel program once again 

Eleven municipalities from Salt Lake, Utah and Summit counties are offering discounted rain barrels for residents. The captured water can then be used for outdoor landscaping. Samantha DeSeelhorst, an associate planner and sustainability analyst with the city of Cottonwood Heights, said people often take a top-down approach to conservation, relying on policy and legislation. “I think [the rain barrel program is] also just as important to invest in bottom-up, hyperlocal approaches, which is what we're seeing with this program in people's backyards.” The barrels cost $55 for participating cities, counties and water conservancy districts. For people outside of those areas, they’re $83. This is the eighth year this water conservation program is being run by the Utah Rivers Council. — Lexi Peery

Two Utah women’s basketball teams are going dancing 

March Madness has arrived. While there are no Utah teams on the men’s side of the bracket, two from the state did make it in the women’s tournament. The University of Utah women’s basketball team is playing in the tournament for the first time since 2011. They’ll take on Arkansas this Friday in Austin, Texas. Tip off is at 3:30 p.m. MT. The Brigham Young University women’s team is also going dancing. They last appeared in the tournament in 2019 and advanced to the second round before being eliminated. BYU’s first game is Saturday at 11 a.m. against Villanova in Michigan. — Ross Terrell 

Utah Avalanche Center warns of potential large slides

The Utah Avalanche Center is warning of growing avalanche risk throughout the northern part of the state. KPCW in Park City reported a large avalanche was triggered Monday by skiers in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The slide was 2 to 4 feet deep and 600 feet wide. All of the skiers are okay. Forecasters say more avalanches are likely to occur in the coming days because of a weak snow layer that’s been buried. All backcountry travelers are encouraged to avoid west, north and east facing terrain — especially if it’s steeper than 30 degrees. — Ross Terrell 

Southern Utah

Citizens near White Mesa uranium mill want it regulated or cleaned up

A new report released Tuesday argues a uranium mill in southeast Utah is acting as an unregulated radioactive waste site. Now, tribal members and environmentalists are calling for change. White Mesa Mill is just south of Blanding and produces and recycles uranium. Tim Peterson is with the Grand Canyon Trust, which released the report. He said over 700 million pounds of waste have been buried at the mill, but the facility isn’t properly regulated for that. A Ute Mountain Ute tribe community lives nearby. Yolanda Badback, a White Mesa resident, said it impacts air and water quality for people there. In a statement, the company that operates the mill said it’s not a “waste dump” and has a “world-leading recycling program.” Read the full story. — Lexi Peery

State

Utah Taxpayers Association releases 2022 legislative scorecard

The Utah Taxpayers Association is praising the state Legislature for policies it passed in this year’s general session. The association supports tax cuts and keeping taxes low. In its 2022 legislative scorecard, it specifically applauded the body for cutting the across-the-board income tax rate by 0.1%. The association has been pushing for that cut in recent years. It also identified 47 lawmakers as voting with the association’s positions on taxes 90% of the time or more. Tax cuts approved this year will cost the state about $200 million annually. — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

Vail resorts raises minimum wage to $20 an hour 

Affordable housing and wages are big issues across the Mountain West — especially in resort towns. Vail Resorts CEO Kirsten Lynch says the minimum hourly wage will increase to $20 in the next ski season. Lynch also said the company wants to build affordable housing on property it owns — or lease more units in existing developments. The company owns Park City Mountain Resort — along with properties in Colorado, Nevada, California and Canada. — Dave Rosenthal, Mountain West News Bureau 

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