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March 8, 2021

Utah

Utah’s economy ranks as the best of any state in 2020 with its high Domestic Gross Product growth rate (3.4% compared to the national average of 1.9%), high employment growth and low unemployment rate. The state is currently home to more than 3 million residents, which is expected to nearly double by 2065.

To prepare for the state’s ongoing economic and population growth, Utah legislators passed the Concurrent Resolution Concerning the Protection, Development and Beneficial Use of Utah’s Colorado River Compact Allocation during the 2020 general session.

The resolution encourages the state and its water providers to “expeditiously develop and place to beneficial use wherever in the state the need may arise, the water apportioned to Utah under the compacts, consistent with the Law of the River; ... continue to explore and implement practices that promote water efficiency and water conservation; and ... coordinate and cooperate with the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, and the other Colorado River basin states in the timely implementation of the Drought Control Plans and the completion of the re-consultation on the Colorado River Interim Guidelines, while ensuring that the state’s lawful interest in Colorado River waters is fully protected.”

Utah currently uses approximately 1 million acre-feet of water annually of its 1922 compact allocation. The state has reduced the estimate of its remaining developable water supply to account for uncertain hydrology and climate change. After subtracting current use, evaporation, and the climate change reserve, Utah still has a significant amount of water available annually for development.

Of the remaining amount available for development, water has been reserved for tribal water right settlements with the Navajo Nation and Ute Indian Tribe and the Lake Powell Pipeline, an approximately 140-mile pipeline that would provide a secure, long- term water resource for southern Utah.

Utah has reduced its municipal and industrial per capita water use more than 20% between 2000 and 2018. In late 2019, the Utah Division of Water Resources published Utah’s Regional M&I Water Conservation Goals with the target of further reducing the state’s per capita use an additional 16% by 2030. The state is involved in conservation pilot programs, drought planning and demand management.