Most Utahns support an increase in taxes to build new water development projects in the state, a new UtahPolicy poll shows.
Pollster Dan Jones & Associates found that 54 percent of adult Utahns either “strongly” or “somewhat” support such a tax hike, while 37 percent either “strongly” or “somewhat” oppose the idea. Nine percent didn’t know.
Except in the case where there is a water conservancy district in your area, which may levy a relatively small property tax for water, there are no direct water taxes.
Most water district income comes through fees assessed on the amount of water you use in your home or business – measured through a water meter.
To help districts build expensive water projects, like dams or pipelines, the state has for years had a water development fund.
And fund administrators lend water companies money for the capital projects, with repayments have no interest rates or small rates.
But as Utah’s population grows there is need for some really big water projects, like dam(s) on the Bear River and/or large, long pipelines to bring water to a growing area that is far away from the water collection source – like the billion-dollar-plus pipeline from Lake Powell to Washington county across the length of the bottom of the state.
And in his latest poll, Jones finds there is support for such large water development projects from across the political spectrum.
Those who said they are Republicans support new water taxes, 56-37 percent.
Democrats support the new building efforts, 58-29 percent.
Political independents support new water taxes, 50-40 percent.
In this session, it is most likely that lawmakers will approve a new round of state bonding to raise money for expensive water projects.
The bonds would be paid back by the water users, but since some of the projects could be very costly it could take years to pay off the bonds.
So state officials could be looking at bonds over a longer period than they would normally issue them, say, for construction of a new college building or a road project.