The Utah Division of Water Resources is preparing to release a new water plan which cuts Utah’s current statewide water conservation goals by 50 percent, lowering it from a 1-percent savings per year to 0.5-percent savings per year over the next 50 years. This is according to the Utah Rivers Council in a press release on Feb. 12.

The Utah Rivers Council press release said the plan hasn’t been shared with the public, but the division allowed “lobbyists working to advance Bear River Development and the Lake Powell Pipeline to consult with them to reduce water conservation efforts.”

The division used numbers from the “secret plan” to oppose new legislation to conserve water, HB143, which asks cities and other water suppliers to consider what they would have to do to reduce their water use to 175 gallons per capita day (GPCD). The division opposed the legislation by citing higher water conservation goals from its secret water plan, the press release said.

In meetings with the Utah Rivers Council, the division claimed that lowering water use to 175 GPCD was too difficult and shouldn’t be considered further. The division suggested substitute language for HB 143 which completely removes any specific water use targets.

“Using a water conservation plan as a weapon to stop water conservation legislation is unethical greenwashing at its worst,” said Zach Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council who invited division staff to support HB143 last November. 

The Utah Rivers Council is a nonprofit organization that advocates for sustainable aquatic ecosystems by protecting Utah’s watersheds.

Division of Water Resources opposed bill to encourage water conservation, advocates say