SALT LAKE CITY — Ahead of the start of the 2023 Utah Legislative Session, water appeared to be a popular topic throughout the 45-day session. And a week into the session, that seems to be the case.
House Speaker Brad Wilson (R-Kaysville) came to Inside Sources, moderated by Maura Carabello and Taylor Morgan, to discuss what’s being done in the Legislature on water.
Carabello asked, “We hear so much about the Great Salt Lake. This was an issue that you personally drew attention to and advocated for. What are you looking for? What kind of legislation will come?”
“I think that’s what people worry about if we don’t solve our water problems long-term,” Wilson said of the statewide water situation. “That the opportunity for children and grandchildren to live here will be restricted and may not happen. And they are also concerned about how this is affecting the quality of life.”
But with regard to the Great Salt Lake specifically, Wilson had good news to share.
“The lake reached its lowest point in recorded history last fall,” Wilson said. “That’s not the good news. The good news is that with all the precipitation we are now a foot higher.”
While Wilson says he’d love to have another 4 to 5 feet to add to that, it’s something that won’t happen by accident.
“And so there are many policy levers that we are trying to pull in this session to address the issue,” he said.
Bills in support of Utah’s water situation
One bill Wilson says is under consideration is called Utah Waterways. He says it will create a framework with the state to coordinate with a nonprofit called Utah Waterways.
Wilson says the organization will create clear public campaign messages about how all residents can help conserve water. The agency will also coordinate statewide conservation grants with a variety of programs.
“So citizens and industry have this kind of one-stop shop that they can go to to help us with our water needs,” Wilson said.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives says another bill in the works will include a charter committee. The committee would work with the state engineer at the Bear River and the Columbia River.
The Bear River is the main river that supplies the Great Salt Lake, says Wilson.
“This bill will restructure some of the ways that the administration of the water contracts related to the Bear River works with the idea of making sure we maximize the amount of water flowing through the Bear down to the Great Salt Lake,” he said.
Wilson says there are also bills dealing with landscaping. He says there are a lot of people who want to do things differently with landscaping. Additionally, Wilson says there is additional funding for landscaping programs already underway.
Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard on weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m