The Weber River runs through Morgan County on Thursday, March 9, 2023.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

The Great Salt Lake dominated attention during the 2023 legislative session, but lawmakers also spent money on vital water projects in Utah, including dollars to help fix aging aqueducts, water reuse, cloud seeding and more.

The expenditures are all part of a way to keep the system running, much like periodic maintenance checks on a vehicle that correct a problem before it balloons into a disaster.

Four aging aqueduct systems that serve over 2 million people on the Wasatch Front will receive $50 million for upgrades or replacements to incorporate earthquake resilience.

“We met with a whole bunch of stakeholders about earthquake resilience,” said Ari Bruening, president and chief executive officer of Envision Utah. “There are a lot of things that we could do — everything from transportation to natural gas and power and upgrading buildings. But what rose to the top was water because it is such a critical need. And what rose to the top of that was these aqueducts, because without these aqueducts, most of the water that serves the Wasatch Front would not be available for many, many, many months.”

The findings were part of a report this year by the Utah Seismic Safety Commission for funding to help fill in the gaps for what is an overall cost of $554 million, Bruening said.

“The districts think they can come up with most of that through federal grants and their own water rates. … The gap was $175 million so we’re almost a third of the way there,” Bruening said, adding that the hope is additional money will be allocated for these systems in the future.

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Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


Utah aqueducts to get earthquake-conscious upgrades, replacements

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