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Third Party Review of Utah’s Water Data Gathering & Analysis Released

Salt Lake City (Jan. 31, 2018) — A third party review of Utah’s water data gathering and analysis methods, as part of the 2016 Legislative session’s S.B. 251, was released today. The third party review was conducted by Bowen Collins and Associates and Hansen, Allen and Luce Inc. “The purpose of this report was to have a different set of eyes evaluate what we do, and make recommendations about how we can do better,” said Rachel Shilton, DWRe State River Basin Planning Section Manager.

 The analysis found that the State’s water use data collection and analysis have improved over the years, and resulted in accurate potable (drinking water quality) use estimates. The report also includes helpful recommendations about taking system inefficiencies, water lost in the system through leaking pipes for example, into account.

 The report found flaws in the inputs used for secondary water estimation, resulting in significant underestimations of secondary water supply and use.

 “Adjusting those inputs will improve secondary water estimate accuracy; however, Utah needs universal Secondary Water Metering to avoid estimating in the first place,” said Todd Adams, DWRe Deputy Director. “We need to measure what matters, and water really matters.”

 The document also makes recommendations related to streamlined categorization, and the potential evaluation of a sub-set of smaller systems being evaluated rather than all small systems to reduce evaluation time. The divisions of Water Rights and Water Resources will likely continue to evaluate all smaller systems, in accordance with Legislative Audit recommendations.

“We have now received very helpful guidance from both the Legislative Auditor’s Office and this third-party analysis,” said Candice Hasenyager, DWRe Assistant Director over water planning. “We are dedicated to improvement, and these resources identified a helpful path.”

The division will apply these recommendations to the 2015 water use data and analysis, and use the updated dataset as the new statewide baseline. It is estimated that the updated analysis will be available in spring 2018.

The full third-party analysis, as well as the 2015 Legislative Audit and 2017 Legislative Audit follow up reports, can be found on the following web page: https://water.utah.gov/waterdata.html. An executive summary of the third-party analysis is attached.

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