News Feature | May 9, 2017

Utah Faces Challenges In Water Data Reporting Effort

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

data.reg

As Utah struggles with water scarcity, the state is having trouble with a key tool for managing this issue: water data.

The Utah Division of Water Resources recently released information "identifying discrepancies in water data reporting," according to Deseret News.

The State Records Committee decided last month that city water use data must be made public for the first time, according to a previous report by Deseret News.

Zach Frankel of the Utah Rivers Council was among the advocates for data transparency.

“Frankel [argued that] misperceptions about Utah's water use are being used to justify large-scale proposals like the Lake Powell pipeline and Bear River Development Project,” the report said.

After the decision, the state began releasing more data.

It has “included an analysis of the collection process, as well as a comprehensive chart of local water suppliers that shows problem areas in local reporting,” the report said.

Now that more data is being made public, it is clear that Utah faces some challenges with water data reporting.

“Of the 475 community water systems that reported water usage to the Division of Water Rights, 269 of them needed to improve their reporting to address such problems as using incorrect measurements, improper categorical corrections, improper estimates and discrepancies in service populations, according to the division's analysis,” Deseret News reported.

Experts say collecting accurate water data is part of bolstering conservation. Utah is trying to reduce water use by a quarter. Division of Water Resources Director Eric Millis said water utilities and residents are responding positively, according to the report.

But additional conservation goals are needed, he said, since the state is still using too much water.

Utah is often cited as the nation’s second-driest state. Water experts in Utah are aware of the need for better water data in their state.

Envision Utah, a policy and research organization, issued draft water recommendations for the state last year. Conservation must play a central role in the state’s water future, according to the group.

The group called on the state to "improve data collection and reporting systems to provide more accurate information to the public, water managers, and policymakers.”

To read more about how utilities share information with ratepayers visit Water Online’s Consumer Outreach Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Data Breach," Jim Kaskade © 2014, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/