Utah Water Ways is modeled after successful Utah Clean Air program

A House Committee gave its approval Thursday to create a “one stop shop” for citizens, water companies and local governments to learn about ways to conserve water. 

HB307 would create Utah Water Ways, a nonprofit which sponsor Calvin Musselman (R-West Haven) says is meant to inform, promote and educate Utahns about more efficient water usage. If passed, the nonprofit would receive a one-time allotment of $2 million and $1 million annually. 

“Having the Utah Water Ways is a really innovative, unique idea, one where we can, through a collaborative effort, share the message of how important this is,” Director of Natural Resources Joel Ferry said during Thursday’s hearing.

The public and private sectors are expected to work together on the effort. Companies such as Rio Tinto, Intermountain Health, Ivory Homes and Larry H. Miller expressed their support. 

“By working together with public-private partnerships, we can lock arms with the private sector and be unified in our efforts to protect our natural resources,” Musselman said. 

Utah Water Ways is structurally similar to UCAIR (Utah Clean Air), a partnership dedicated to providing resources about individual effects on air pollution. Rep. Casey Snider (R-Paradise) said UCAIR is an example that the public-private structure has worked well and he can see HB307 “replicating those successes.” UCAIR urges Utahns to carpool, telework and use public transit, and it provides grants to reduce air pollution.

“Utah Water Ways is intended to… help Utahns understand their actions have a direct result on our natural resources,” Musselman said. “It really is about changing the narrative around water use.”

Opponents of the bill cited redundancy and cost as major concerns. 

“I’ve got some real concerns about this proposal,” said Rep. Scott Chew (R-Jensen). “We’re talking about spending money to do things that I feel like is already being done by the good citizens of Utah.” 

Various members of the public spoke in opposition of the bill as well. Wastewater and agricultural representatives raised concerns about the proposed board for the nonprofit. 

HB307 now moves to the House Floor with a favorable recommendation from the House Natural Resources, Agricultural and Environment Committee.

Great Salt Lake Collaborative Intern
Alexis Perno is a third year student at the University of Utah studying journalism and social work. Alexis aims to explore the intersection between social work and journalism in the future, namely through the world of macro social work, focusing on making an impact at the political and community level. Check out Alexis’ other journalistic endeavors at SLUG Mag, where their fierce love of music is allowed to shine. You can find them showing off their cat at every opportunity on Instagram @alexis.perno

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