A current-year investment of nearly one billion dollars for state infrastructure of roads, bridges, drinking water, dams and waste water treatment is the recommendation of a University of Utah team of civil engineering students. The group of 18 students and 4 staff members from the “U” relied on data available from various government agencies and presented the preliminary report Tuesday to a room full of state and local officials. AJ Burton of Draper is working on his Bachelor degree in civil engineering. He says based on their data, $220-million dollars is needed right now to upgrade the state’s drinking water distribution systems.
“Distribution is much more in need of funding than water quality control and supply…currently," says Burton. "So, that’s due mainly to the fact that the majority of Utah’s pipelines are 50 year old or more.”
Burton’s team also called on the public to become more educated on water saving techniques and for the state to more actively enforce water conservation.
Democratic State Representative Carol Spackman-Moss of Salt Lake City questioned the team’s findings that water supply concerns can be put off for another 10 years. She says people have to understand that the state’s drinking water supply is limited. “We pay a relatively low cost for water in this state and so there really isn’t a big incentive for conservation and I mean that’s something that policy makers certainly have to deal with because we just don’t have don’t have that incentive to conserve,” says Moss. She says penalties just have not made a big difference in how residents use water. The full report by the group will be presented during the 2014 Legislative session on behalf of the Utah chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The report was created in less than 12 weeks during summer semester at no cost to taxpayers.