The Fight for Transparency and Honesty
The Division of Water Resources must appear before the State Records Committee to explain why the amount of water the public is using should be a secret. The Division has refused to show the Utah Rivers Council the data that backs their outlandish claim that Utah is running out of water. We submitted a GRAMA requesting Utah’s water use numbers so we could fact check this claim and examine the progress of the State’s water conservation campaign. We will be updating you via Twitter and a Facebook Livestream during the State Records Committee tomorrow so be sure to follow us on social media for the play by play.
This water use info is central to the discussion of future state water policy. Utah has the highest per-person municipal water use in the U.S. according to the USGS and $4 million has been invested over the last 16 years in TV, radio and newspaper ads to encourage people to save water. Without an opportunity for the public to see our water use data, no fact checking can be done to determine how effective these efforts have been. Water leaders claim we are making progress in conserving water from these ads while at other times they claim we cannot conserve any more water. Keeping the water data a secret is central to these contradictions.
The URC initiated a stinging 2015 Legislative Audit that revealed the Division didn’t know how much water Utah uses and that much of their data was flawed or did not exist. The Division used the same bad data to convince the Legislature to fund both the Bear River Water Grab and the Lake Powell Pipeline with $40 million in recurring annual appropriations in the 2016 Session.