The Utah House of Representatives joined the State Senate in unanimously passing Senate Bill 26 — Water Banking amendments.
Attentive stewardship of Utah’s water resources is of critical importance to continued economic growth, the environment, and Utah culture,” said a spokesperson for the State Legislature. This bill enacts the Water Banking Act, which provides for the creation of voluntary water banks organized by local water users to administer market transactions for the temporary use of water rights.
SB26 establishes an application process for becoming a water bank under the Act, directs how water rights are to be deposited into and distributed within the approved bank service area, and provides for reporting and state oversight.
The Water Banking Act is a 10-year pilot project with a sunset date of 2030. SB26 is a consensus bill reflecting three years of effort and input from an 80-plus person stakeholder working group and a statewide public outreach campaign.
The concepts of the Water Banking Act will be tested through several demonstration projects conducted in collaboration with local users and funded by a $400,000 state appropriation (2019) and $400,000 BOR WaterSMART Water Marketing Grant.
This bill protects agriculture from buy-and-dry and builds on concepts endorsed by SJR01 (2019), the Governor’s 2017 Recommended Water Strategy report, and a number of existing state water policies and goals.
The bill is now ready for Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature.