This year’s state Legislature didn’t cough up the sort of immediacy on water resources that dominated the last two sessions and the spending was substantially less. Still, Utah lawmakers set in motion what they say is a need to address the holes in a bucket they continue to try to fill to chart a course for the future. Without patching, it will get worse.

They are thinking about the long game this year, saying they believe the foundation has been set and now it is time to safeguard it and, in a more aggressive step, set up a path to secure additional water — even if it means going out of state or investing in additional water development projects.

Here are five key steps they took — for better according to supporters, or incredibly worse for detractors.

Planning for the future: Lawmakers passed SB211 which was propelled by its powerhouse sponsors — Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, and House Speaker Mike Schultz, R-Hooper. It is not a coincidence that both of these lawmakers are in the direct line of sight of the dwindling Great Salt Lake and fifth generation beneficiaries of aging dams, canals and aqueducts that serve one of the fastest growing areas of the state. The measure sets up a Water Development Council and “state water agent” to negotiate future water supplies — but those negotiations are secret until presented to the state Legislature and governor. The idea is to plan for Utah’s water resources well into the future, as much as 100 years, or risk running out of the finite resource for future generations. Critics slammed the measure because they say it gives unfettered control to the state’s largest water districts to operate in secrecy at a time when water is a paramount, public concern.

The plan that’s not there: Another endorsement is the mandate for the state to come up with a water plan, via legislation, to establish a concrete set of goals. One would think a plan is already in place given the drought that has plagued the West for the last two decades and helped drive the Great Salt Lake to historic lows. But if you add up the number of state water agencies, conservancy districts, irrigation companies and others playing in the field of water resources, it is likely no one could get to a correct number. HB280 directs the development of a state water plan and studies on how to make that work. Sponsored by Rep. Casey Snider, R-Paradise, the bill and other measures are part of a “suspenders and belt” approach this year to build on what Utah has already accomplished. Again, some critics dismissed the measure as a plan to make a plan.

Mineral extraction angst: Snider once again waded into the tumultuous water world that is the way of the West with his Great Salt Lake Revisions bill, HB453, which directed more oversight on companies engaged in mineral extraction. The measure intends to keep more water in the saline body by upstream users engaged in conservation. Snider said there was not enough regulatory oversight of these companies and the “saved” water was not guaranteed to get the lake. Doubts remain over the measure’s effectiveness of making sure that happens and worries that those upstream users could still monetize that water for other purposes, such as development or more agricultural uses.

Hasn’t it suffered enough already? The state Legislature heard a request to allocate $10 million to help a $100 million project replacing a 99-year-old water line in Ogden Canyon. It’s leaking, a lot. Aging requires extra care and more money for medications and other expenses. In this case, water saved would help the Willard Spur — and the Great Salt Lake — helping to stave off the onslaught of avian botulism and restore it to a vital corridor in the basin. It agreed to give $5 million to give the planned line replacement a chance. Additionally, the state Legislature was set to appropriate $10 million to the office of the Great Salt Lake Commissioner to further its work in saving the the lake and looking for new ways to find solutions to a problem that poses a paramount threat to Utah’s identity, its industries, public health and a vital ecosystem.

Water wise, water learning: Students learn about geology, Utah history, math and writing in secondary education, but what do they learn about water in a state increasingly plagued by drought? Not much, if anything. SB62 directs the newly established Utah Waterways program to work with the state Board of Education to develop curriculum to help the youth better understand the state’s water history and why knowing more about this resource is vital.