Environment & Public Lands
6:57 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Water Conservation Coalition Calls for Audit of Utah Division of Water Resources

Gooseberry Reservoir in Sanpete County, Utah
Credit Bob Nelson

A broad coalition of water conservation groups is calling for a legislative audit of the Utah Division of Water Resources. The partnership includes Living Rivers, the Taxpayer Association of Kane County and Glen Canyon Institute. Zack Frankel is the executive director of Utah Rivers Council which is also part of the coalition. He says a review by the Legislative Auditor General’s Office will help show the public that the division wastes millions by lobbying for expensive water projects while scrimping on conservation education efforts.

“The important thing to understand about water conservation is that it’s not about doing without, it’s about doing without waste." Frankel told KUER. "And we can dramatically lower our water use without removing one blade of grass. We could lower our water use 20 to 25 percent.”

Frankel says the so-called “Strong’s Law”, that something dies when water is conserved, is disturbing. The phrase was named after Dennis Strong, the director of the Utah Division of Water Resources. Strong says he is being misquoted.

“When you conserve, there are consequences. Now does that mean we shouldn’t conserve? Absolutely not, we should conserve. But let’s consider what it is when we conserve,” Strong says.

Strong says while it’s true Utahns use water at almost twice the national average, residents have also reduced consumption by 18 percent since the year 2000. He says he welcomes the audit request.

”So that we could demonstrate and show that we definitely have a commitment to conservation,” says Strong.

Both Frankel and Strong say they agree that cutting waste has to be part of Utah’s future water development.