In the past few years, Utah has experienced one of the worst droughts in our state’s history. During its 2023 general session, the Utah Legislature is committed to finding and funding solutions to Utah’s water problems. 

We expect this year to be another historic year for water-related legislation. To highlight the importance of this matter, we are celebrating Water Week, a combined effort among Senate and House members to emphasize the Legislature’s work to conserve, protect and enhance Utah’s water resources. 

There are several pieces of legislation this session focused on water, including a few of my own bills. SB118, Water Efficient Landscaping Incentives, expands on the popular “turf buyback” program. Last year, we passed legislation incentivizing Utahns to get rid of decorative grass and instead replace it with water-wise landscaping. This year, we are building upon this legislation by bringing on partners that will help almost double the amount of grants that will be allocated. This is a huge win for Utah. By switching out grass that isn’t used, Utahns can conserve significant amounts of water.

Utah drought takes toll on water systems, drying up springs, wells

In addition to programs like “turf buyback,” the Legislature is working with our state’s farmers and ranchers to better conserve and utilize water for agriculture. During the 2022 general session, we allocated $75 million for agriculture water optimization. This year, we are proposing $200 million for agriculture water optimization, more than doubling our investment and commitment. Farmers and ranchers have a vested interest in saving water and want to participate in our state’s conservation efforts. 

Last year, we funded nearly $500 million for water conservation, a historic investment. Though we will continue to make investments this session, there are many opportunities for all of us to conserve water in our daily lives. As Utahns, we need to take personal responsibility over our water consumption. Sixty percent of residential water use is used for outdoor irrigation. Eliminating just one watering can save about 3,000 gallons for the average quarter-acre Utah yard with .17 acres of green space. We also need to educate our children on water conservation and teach them to treat it as a precious resource.

This Utah official applauds Nevada’s water conservation measures, but cautions against direct comparisons

By implementing simple and easy water conservation efforts, we can see drastic changes in our state. Since we live in the desert, water will always be an issue. As we continue to make efforts in our personal lives as well as in the Legislature, we are ensuring future generations will be able to call Utah home. I encourage each of you to join us for Water Week by looking at ways you and your family can conserve water. 

Utahns are good at working together. We have a history of creating something out of nothing. We have turned a desert into a world-renowned tourist destination with economic growth that makes other states envious. With that same spirit, let’s work together to solve Utah’s water issues. 

Scott Sandall was elected to the Utah Senate in 2018. Prior to that, he served for four years in the Utah House. He is a Box Elder County native and the owner and operator of Sandall Ranches, a fourth-generation farm and ranch in Promontory, Utah.