Lawmakers pass ‘water cremation’ bill, eco-friendly alternative to burial

SALT LAKE CITY – A bill that would allow alkaline hydrolysis, also known as water cremation passed the house and senate and is making its’ way to Governor Gary Herbert’s desk for consideration.

H.B. 121 Regulation of Alkaline Hydrolysis Process was sponsored by Rep. Stephen G. Handy (R- Layton) and was State Senator Evan Vickers (R- Cedar City).

“As we think about our loved ones as they pass on, there are basically two options. You can bury or you can cremate,” Senator Vickers said. “We now are proposing a third option. And that, you might say, is dissolving.”

Alkaline hydrolysis is a water-based process, that uses alkaline chemicals, heat and sometimes pressure or agitation to reduce human remains to a liquid and dry bone residue. The procedure is known as a greener form of cremation because it uses less fuel, and does not pollute the air nearly as much as traditional processes. Alkaline hydrolysis is still illegal in the state of Utah, something that supporters of the bill are seeking to change.

Under the bill, individuals would be allowed to direct that their remains be cremated through the process of alkaline hydrolysis. It would also allow funeral service establishments to conduct the procedure, provided that they get authorization for each cremation, and have a license allowing them to perform the service.

Senator Vickers told the State Senate floor that the process is very similar current methods of embalming and cremation, and does not create any types of waste or hazards as a byproduct.

“I’d like to know where you sign up for this,” State Senator Peter Knudson (R- Brigham City) said on the Senate floor.

The bill passed the State Senate 22-2, and the House 53-14.