Utah Policy/KSL Insider Survey: Should Utah Encourage More Water Conservation?

Last week California Governor Jerry Brown instituted mandatory water restrictions to deal with that state's historic drought. Our "Political Insiders" mostly think Utah officials also should be doing more to encourage more water conservation.

73% of the Republicans on our panel and every Democrat thinks the state should be pushing more water conservation, especially in light of the relatively dry winter Utah just experienced. 79% of our readers also think more should be done to get people to conserve water.


Selected anonymous comments:

"If we don't voluntarily do it now, we'll involuntarily do it later. Though we should do more now, my guess is that Utahns will wait until they have no choice."
"State, county and municipal policy needs to change and focus more on Xeriscaping as the preferred landscape method for public property and allow optional landscape treatments besides green grass on every acre. Maybe water districts can provide special water rates for xeriscape yards and more traditional rates for 'traditional yards.'"
"When I moved to Utah 8 years ago, I was amazed that no one discussed how important it was to not waste water. In other states, government officials, the media and community organizations are united on the importance of conserving water. People need to be continually reminded that we live in a desert."
"State law should be created to override HOA's that mandate having grass. We live in a desert, landscape accordingly."
"We should build the full cost of water in water rates rather than socializing the cost through property in sales taxes. This would do more to achieve water conservancy than public education campaigns ever could."
"Just charge fair-market value for water."
"Of course… I mean, water conservation should be a part of all of our familial discussions. The idea that a politician would (or should) direct that idea is silly."
"It is inevitable. Better to start early, rather than later. Our Pioneer forefathers and Mothers would be proud if we did. And, the Native Americans always planned for droughts."
"For one thing, Utah should abandon any plans to move water from Lake Powell to St George and from the Bear River to the Wasatch Front. The cost of the projects are unconscionable especially when no government entitiy has ever shown any interest or backbone to implement honest-to-goodness water conservation. Another problem is the 'use it or lose it' basis for most of the West's, including Utah, archaic water laws. We need to recognize that water should be a natural limit to growth and not just an inconvenient problem that can be solved by throwing tax dollars at it. If St George and the Wasatch Front want more water, they should pay the full price and not ask everyone in the state to bail them out."
"We need to start paying the real cost of water. Empowering people to pay for the water they use, will allow people to make decisions on how much they pay for."
"Cities and counties can start by charging higher rates as people use more water. The state can take property tax authority away from water districts so that the districts won't be able to subsidize irresponsible water use with property taxes, but instead will have to price water accurately. Make the profligate users pay more, and conservation will happen. Finally, use the increased public funds to help farmers irrigate their crops in much more efficient ways."
"They should move to market pricing of water. Exhortations will get nowhere, and enforcement will require a police state."
"Conservation of a limited, valuable asset is always appropriate, however, Utah is not in the same situation as California, so some of the same mandatory restrictions would not yet be appropriate."
"Water conservation is always good, but agriculture consumes 85 percent of the water in this state. Until we find a way to better use it there more efficiently, we aren't really addressing the water problem. Household changes just really won't make that big of a difference."
"More to encourage it? Yes. Mandatory restrictions? Maybe. That depends on how wet our spring and early summer are."
"It is ridiculous that we subsidize water use through property taxes. We're in a desert yet everyone has lawn. It's just crazy. Remove the subsidy and watch what happens."
"Unfortunately they won't act until the crisis is on us then they will panic."