Concern over proposed bill affecting city watersheds

The Utah Rivers Council is a grassroots organization dedicated to the conservation and stewardship of Utah’s rivers and clean water sources. According to their executive director, Zach Frankel, they are concerned about some legislation that could have ramifications in Cache Valley as far as a city’s ability to protect its watershed.

Legislation that, unintentionally or not, would grant that authority to the legislature alone. According to Frankel, HB 135 has been described as a territorial bill.

“But what it really does in practicality, if it was passed it would stop a city from protecting its watershed or its water quality, its water supply upstream of its drinking water plants, of its treatment plants.

“So, in other words, what’s happening now along the Wasatch Front is the cities are all dependent on snowmelt runoff for our water supply. About 85 percent of our drinking water comes from snowmelt runoff,” he explained.

Frankel says at its currently set, those cities have regulatory authority to keep their watersheds protected, to keep them clean and healthy and to prevent development upstream that jeopardizes the quality of the water supply for literally millions of Utahns.

He said this bill would stop that upstream regulation, and if passed would require more water treatment costs and facilities to be constructed by cities in the state. Frankel warns that the consequence may be increased water rates over time to pay for these new facilities. Those interested can read the entire text of the bill at <a href=”https://le.utah.gov/~2018/bills/static/HB0135.html” target=”_blank”>le.utah.gov</a>. Frankel was a guest on KVNU’s For the People program last Thursday.

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