Water district managers across the state meet to discuss drought solutions

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ST. GEORGE, Utah – In the face of another dry year, Utah water district managers are meeting to explore new solutions to a growing concern about providing a strong water supply for an ever increasing demand.

Workshops are part of the Utah Water Users Association convention. The yearly meeting is one the largest of its kind in the country. Water managers from across the state are exploring different aspects of expansion and conservation.

“Water in Utah is so vitally important,” said Utah Division of Water Resources deputy director Todd Adams. “Not only to agriculture where 80 percent of our water is used, but also to the municipal and industrial water.”

The convention comes at a crucial time as Utah enters a fourth consecutive drought season. In fact, with the exception of 2011, there have been six years of dry conditions. It’s a fact that weighs heavy on the attendees.

“The feeling is, here we go again,” said Weber Basin Water Conservancy District general manager Tage Flint. “It seems like we have dealt with this scenario many years in a row now.”

Flint said one way managers are looking at solving the water problem is diversifying the water supply. Several projects across the state aim toward that goal.

In southern Utah, the Lake Powell pipeline would bring water from the Colorado River into Washington County. Critics of the project say it often comes down to money -- who’s going to pay for it -- but Adams said sometimes conservation can cost just as much.

“We do need to become more efficient and more effective,” Adams said. “But that does cost in order to do that, whether it’s at a district level, or at the homeowner level. Whatever level it’s at it does cost money to conserve.”

Directors say the state has made strides at conservation, touting the state has reduced water consumption by 18 percent since the year 2000. In Washington County it’s down 25 percent.

Still there’s more work to be done, and water districts hope collaboration will spark new ideas to the ongoing problem.