Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Utah's Thirst for Water Comes with $13.7 Billion Price Tag

The ability to turn on the tap, flush the toilet and water the garden over the next 20 years will be a multibillion-dollar challenge in Utah because of new water and sewer systems that state officials say must be put in place.

A statewide list of water projects, including their costs, is being shopped to Utah lawmakers, along with the warning that it is better to plan now and pay now, rather than wait until dams fail or taps run dry.

The numbers are staggering, adding up to $13.7 billion. And that doesn't include billions identified for controversial projects such as the Lake Powell Pipeline or the Bear River Development project.

The Utah divisions of water quality and water resources and other public agencies compiled the list of water infrastructure needs in Utah that provides just one glimpse of a national problem decades in the making.

A roundtable highlighting the water infrastructure challenges across the country estimated the cost to maintain and replace drinking water systems alone at $1 trillion. Hosted by the Conservation Leadership Partnership, the discussion earlier this month took on new urgency as most of the nation continues to recover from the worst drought in 50 years.

The partnership is an initiative seeking to broker new alternatives to persistent conservation problems, emphasizing the need for public-private partnerships and entrepreneurship and "ground-up" solutions. Deseret News