Senator Scott Sandall wants to protect Utah’s water security well into the future. “We need to be thinking about what water supplies in Utah will look like 50 years from now,” Sandall said while speaking with Grow the Flow on February 14.


As part of Sandall’s long-term view for water in Utah, he spoke about appropriating $20 million this session to bolster the $40 million fund that was created last year as part of the Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Program. These would be extremely valuable and timely funds to accelerate the purchase and leasing of water for Great Salt Lake.


Sandall says solutions should be market-based. He sees a path forward where farmers can retain their livelihoods while also having the option to lease or sell their water rights at a competitive price. “Farmers are smart,” Sandall said. “They’ll figure out what’s economically beneficial for them.” 


Sandall underscored the urgency with which the state must allocate funds to compensate farmers for their conservation efforts. Accelerating these kinds of market-based solutions is key, and as a potential first step, Sandall says he is interested in a bill that would fund the study of water pricing and its legal nuances in Utah. Sandall has been discussing this possibility publicly since late last year, when he brought it up at the Legislative Water Development Commission. 


Additionally, Sandall is interested in solutions that would help the state conserve water that is being transported via canals. In some instances, he says it would be smarter to pipe water to reduce evaporation and allow more efficient delivery. Likewise, Sandall described other changes that could be win-wins for water users and conservation. For example, he said he was open to exploring the idea of removing hybrid bermudagrass from Utah’s list of noxious weeds. This is a far less thirsty variety of turf that cannot be legally sold outside of Washington county. Hybrid Bermuda could be a more economically sustainable crop for turf farmers that could also reduce overall water consumption.


As Senator Sandall “thinks about the state of Utah’s water now and 50 years from now,” his efforts to save the lake by saving water are a welcomed sight as we look forward to what we hope will be a more secure future.