New study examines water supply, management and funding in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – How we pay for our water in Utah has long been the center of a heated debate.

It’s one of our most precious resources, but it’s not always treated that way.

“Every Utahn sees their neighbors watering in rainstorms, watering sidewalks, streets and gutters. We need to stop that practice,” said Zach Frankel with the Utah Rivers Council.

Frankel says the problem is the way water is paid for in our state.

A new study from the Utah Foundation is looking into all sides of the heated debate and comparing Utah’s structure to other states.

It finds while most providers in our state do not use property taxes, 90% of Utahns live in the jurisdiction of a provider that does.

“For every dollar that these agencies collect through property taxes is a dollar they don’t have to collect through water rates, so essentially the more they collect through property taxes, the lower they can push the rates,” said Christopher Collard with Utah Foundation.

Frankel has been sounding the alarm on that for years.

He says it’s a big problem when water rates are subsidized.

“Using property taxes to lower the price of water unquestionably encourages water waste, and it also explains why Utahns are the number one highest per-person water users in the country,” Frankel said.

The Utah Foundation doesn’t take a policy stance on the issue, but the report does include signs that could bode well for the current system.

“We did find plenty of examples of successful water providers among those who both did collect property taxes and successful examples of those who didn’t,” said Collard.

This is the first of a four-part study.

Click here to read the full study.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...