H-2-Whoa: 2023 General Session Investments in Water Management

May 5, 2023

Whether addressing the issue of having too much or too little water, recent hydrologic conditions of the state have kept law makers on their toes. Last year, the state made several large investments focused on mitigating drought conditions and increasing conservation, of which $450 million was funded by the American Rescue Plant Act (ARPA) and roughly $55 million was from the General Fund. During the 2023 General Session, legislators were inundated with bills and funding requests aimed at increasing the state’s ability to adapt to an unpredictable water cycle. The table below shows funding items (which may be associated with legislation), including the amount and funding source. The items are linked to their entry in COBI.

Funding Item AmountSourceAgency
Agricultural Water Optimization$200 millionGeneral FundUDAF
Agricultural Water Optimization Loans
for Matching Requirements (ARDL)
$20 millionGeneral FundUDAF
Agriculture Voluntary Incentive Program Funds$1.0 millionGeneral FundUDAF
Air and Water Innovation Grant$8.0 millionGeneral FundGOEO
Amendments Related to the Great Salt Lake (H.B. 491)$12.5 millionGeneral FundDNR
Bear Lake Needs Assessment$313,900Sov. Lands Mgmt.DNR
Cloud Seeding Program$17 millionGeneral FundDNR
Colorado River Authority of Utah$7.0 millionGeneral FundGOV
Colorado River Basin Water Rights Distribution
Priority Schedule
$650,000Water Rights
Rest. Acct.
Comprehensive Watershed Restoration$3.3 millionGeneral FundDNR
Dam Safety Upgrades$25 millionGeneral FundDNR
Digital Lakebed Topography of Great Salt
and Bear Lakes
$1.8 millionSov. Lands Mgmt.DNR
Emergency Management Flood Mitigation$5.0 millionGeneral FundDPS
Emergency Water Shortages Amendments (H.B. 150)$5.0 millionGeneral FundUDAF
Groundwater Monitoring and Investigations (UGS)$288,300General FundDNR
Groundwater Monitoring and Investigations (Water Rights)$165,000General FundDNR
Janet Quinney Lawson Institute for Land, Water, and Air$300,000Income Tax FundUSU
Secondary Water Meters$18 millionARPA, General FundDNR
St. George Graveyard Wash Reuse Storage Reservoir$13.1 millionGeneral FundDEQ
State Match for Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund$12.7 millionGeneral FundDEQ
State Match for Water Quality Revolving Loan Fund$5.8 millionGeneral FundDEQ
Streambank Stabilization (Great Salt Lake Watershed)$5.0 millionSov. Lands Mgmt.DNR
Turf Replacement Rebates$5.0 millionGeneral FundDNR
Utah Water Ways (H.B. 307)$3.0 millionGeneral FundDNR
Wasatch Front Aqueduct Resilience$50 millionGeneral FundDNR
Water Amendments (S.B. 76)$890,000General FundDNR, DEQ, UDAF
Water Distribution and Measurement Automation$449,000Water Rights
Rest. Acct.
Water Efficient Landscaping Incentives (S.B. 118)$3.0 millionGeneral FundDNR
Water Infrastructure Funding Study (S.B. 34)$200,000General FundDNR
Water Infrastructure Projects$50 millionGeneral FundGOEO
Water Reuse Reservoir and Desalination (S.B. 277)$50 millionWater Infrastructure
Rest. Acct.
Water Rights Measurement and Data Enhancements$5.4 millionGeneral Fund,
Water Rights
Rest. Acct.

Several bills were also passed that impact water management, which may not have included an appropriation (in the list above):

Bill NumberShort Title
S.B. 34Water Infrastructure Funding Study
S.B. 53Groundwater Use Amendments
S.B. 76Water Amendments
S.B. 118Water Efficient Landscaping Incentives
S.B. 119Per Capita Consumptive Use
S.B. 144Water Instream Flow Amendments
S.B. 158Water Exactions Amendments
S.B. 191Condominium and Community Association Amendments
S.B. 236Legislative Water Development Commission Amendments
S.B. 251Secondary Water Metering Requirements
S.B. 277Water Conservation and Augmentation Amendments
H.B. 33Water Related Liability Amendments
H.B. 150Emergency Water Shortages Amendments
H.B. 207Compact Commission Amendments
H.B. 307Utah Water Ways
H.B. 349Water Reuse Projects Amendments
H.B. 450Landscaping Requirements
H.B. 491Amendments Related to the Great Salt Lake
H.B. 513Great Salt Lake Amendments

There are also a number of existing water-related funding programs in the state (some of which were supplemented by items listed above). This year’s record breaking snowpack provides policymakers and water managers alike with a unique set of challenges, distinct from the issues faced in previous water years. Our last post summarized emergency-response funding available to address above average flows as the weather warms up. While it remains to be seen how this year’s runoff will impact the state, it’s clear that the Legislature has been actively working to respond to the water woes facing Utah.