Despite changing his golf course bill to include a study and grants to reduce water use, Rep. Douglas Welton’s updated HB188 failed to make it out of committee for the second time. 

The House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee voted 9-2 Friday to hold the bill. 

The latest version of the bill made several changes compared to the original, which only required golf courses to publish their water use. Under this new proposal, HB188 would also commission a study from Utah State University on golf course water use, create a $30 million grant program to fund water use optimization and create the Golf Advisory Board to oversee implementation. 

“We’re just looking for a transparency and accountability bill,” said Welton, R-Payson. “We’re not asking for something that’s any different than what currently exists in other places.”

Despite the changes, the committee still had a wide array of concerns; the “singling out” of one industry was repeated most often. Senate Sponsor Daniel McCay (R-Salt Lake City) said that golf is the “one water user that’s been left out in all our previous programming,” hence the specificity, and that “other states are ahead of us” when it comes to golf water regulation. 

Concerns about the logistics of the study and the funding source for the grant program also had representatives hesitating.

“I think the goal is valid,” Rep. Walt Brooks (R-St. George) said. “I think we just need to make sure that we’re utilizing the processes that are in place to make sure that we vet all these concerns out before we get there.”

Rep. Keven Stratton (R-Orem) was worried the bill would “overcorrect” the issue, specifically voicing concern about publicizing water use data. 

“If we’re gonna be transparent, let’s be transparent to those that have the information to understand it properly,” he said. 

In response to the motion to hold, Sen. McCay revealed the “biggest offenders” when it comes to water: state golf courses. 

“We don’t know the answer to it because we don’t study it,” he said. “That’s great if we hold the bill. It’s not the end of the issue. My request is that we just not let another year where we’re the problem go by.” 

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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