As the weather starts to warm and the snow starts to melt, Utah’s water sources are replenished and the threat of another drought emergency starts to dissipate. However, one good snow year doesn’t mean we’re in the clear. One good winter doesn’t mean Utah has made it out of its 19-year drought.

Mother nature’s unpredictable swings and the increasing threats of climate change paired with institutional constraints and population growth likely mean Utah’s water supply will continue to be stressed as demand increases. For this reason, significant changes in policy, planning and management are necessary to ensure Utah’s water future. Thankfully, both our state and federal leaders are heeding the call.

This month, Utah’s federal delegation unanimously voted in favor of landmark legislation that protects the Colorado River system and avoids mandatory delivery cuts by the U.S. government. The Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) agreed to by seven Colorado River basin states, including Utah, puts proactive conservation measures in place to voluntarily reduce water usage now and help prevent a serious shortage in the future.

Here locally, Utah lawmakers are also making water conservation a priority. During this last legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill requiring secondary water metering for certain water suppliers by 2020 and provided loan funding to help ease the transition. By metering our secondary water, we will not only know just how much we use but we may eventually be charged for that usage, further encouraging conservation.

Addressing Utah’s water challenges is a major focus of the Salt Lake Chamber and has been since its inception. In 1891, the early Chamber called for a multi-state irrigation conference and fought to protect watersheds in the 1920s. Today, the Chamber advocates for smart water policies and works to educate the business community on best practices in water stewardship as well as new optimization tools and technology.

Coming up on September 12, 2019, the Salt Lake Chamber is joining forces with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Government of Israel to host the Business H2O Summit in Snowbird, Utah. This conference will provide an opportunity to share best practices in water management and policy as well as potentially help develop industry solutions and business investment in future water technologies in both Utah and Israel. We hope that you will be able to join us.