The Utah state legislature has passed a law that would bring a bit of free market environmentalism to the state by expanding the right to trade water to protect the Great Salt Lake. Writes Saige Miller for the Salt Lake Tribune:
“If the governor signs HB33, the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (FFSL) would be granted the opportunity to buy water leases and water rights (when and if they become available) to bring water to the Great Salt Lake and keep it there.
“And the FFSL wouldn’t be the only entity allowed to look after in-stream flow rights in the state. HB33 expands the market of water rights and in-stream flow holders to basically anyone, as long as they meet the criteria.
“Previous water laws didn’t allow any appropriated water to stay in streams until about 14 years ago when Utah lawmakers passed a statute that let the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and Division of State Parks keep water flowing downstream to protect a small number of fisheries. In this instance, farmers were allowed to lease their water to maintain the fish population of two species, but it was rarely used.”
In 2020, Hannah Downey of PERC (the Property Environment Research Center), proposed allowing the state to buy water rights to maintain water in the Great Salk Lake.
Image of Great Salt Lake by Sharon Kehl Califano on Pixabay.