Environews, Environews, Minis

Environews: Secret Utah water plan released

By Amy Brunvand

A meeting of the Utah Water Strategy Advisory Committee turned into shouting when the Committee tried to keep the public from seeing or commenting on a draft long-term water plan for the State of Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune obtained a copy and the draft plan was released on the Envision Utah website.

Unfortunately, the draft plan offers nothing new in the way of either water conservation or environmental conservation. One particularly bad aspect is unquestioned support for current practices of agricultural water use.

Last year a Utah Foundation report pointed out that 82% of diverted water in Utah goes to agriculture and half of that water is used to irrigate a single crop—alfalfa hay. Worse, a lot of the hay grown in Utah is shipped to China.

So essentially Utah’s artificially cheap taxpayer-subsidized water feeds Chinese cows. Nonetheless, the draft plan supports building two new hugely expensive and environmentally catastrophic water projects—the Lake Powell Pipeline and the Bear River Project.

The whole plan seems, frankly, crazy. But that’s probably why they were trying to keep it secret.

Utah Rivers Council utahrivers.org; Governor’s State Wa­ter Strategy Draft: envisionutah.org/images/WaterStrategyPlan091516.pdf; Flowing Toward 2050: Utah’s Water Out­­look (Utah Foundation) utahfoundation.org/uploads/rr723.pdf

This article was originally published on October 11, 2016.