An essential element of our daily lives is facing deterioration. It lies hidden underground or perhaps tucked away in a mountain valley. It may not catch your eye, yet Utah’s water infrastructure underpins the very success of our communities. Each pipe, dam or integral structure that pumps, diverts, transports, stores, and treats our water matters to our public health and safety, to our families and to our economy. As a society, we cannot afford to overlook such an imperative feature of our routine existence.

The critical nature of this issue is why the Salt Lake Chamber supports the development of a comprehensive state water strategy to identify how to continue the legacy of meeting our long-term water needs, protect our current water resources and make disciplined investments. This includes a thorough discussion with all stakeholders about the advantages and disadvantages of how we pay for future investments in water infrastructure.

In 2016, the Utah state legislature took a proactive approach and passed S.B. 251. The bill institutes a process to develop new conservation targets and establishes methods to obtain more and improved data to ensure that we prioritize future investments in water only as necessary. This act of support for strengthening resources available to policymakers will allow leaders to make educated decisions. As Utah continues to emphasize the importance of informed water strategy in the years to come the vitality of our communities will be protected for future growth.

One aspect where the data already proves out is the need for repair and replacement of much of Utah’s existing water infrastructure. Much of Utah’s underground urban infrastructure is old, very old. This summer, the state’s largest water district will complete draft asset management plans to ensure that planned maintenance can be conducted and existing infrastructure can be repaired, replaced or upgraded on time and that there is enough money to pay for it.

The realization of an industrious, thriving economy does not come through happenstance. Visions of prosperity are made concrete through the careful preparations of stakeholders and a commitment to data-driven stratagem. Utah must repair and replace in a timely, deliberate manner under the advisement of quality research. The state’s booming population can continue to enjoy bright prospects throughout the decades if current decision makers prioritize the importance of well maintained water infrastructure.

Want to learn more about our state’s water infrastructure? REGISTER NOW for our Time to Build Utah luncheon and panel to hear from experts on transportation and water infrastructure.