FY 2016 Appropriation

Mission: Plan, conserve, develop and protect Utah's water resources.


  • Defend and protect Utah's rights to develop and use its entitlement to interstate streams.
  • Continue state water planning activities to identify future water needs and to assist water entities to meet those needs.
  • Provide technical and financial assistance to encourage the highest beneficial uses of water consistent with economic, social and environmental consideration.
  • Promote weather modification research, evaluation and operational projects.
  • Implement water education/conservation programs that encourage wise municipal, industrial, agricultural and environmental water use.
  • Maintain accurate and current water supply and land use data for each hydrologic basin in the state.

Funding History

Funding Issues

Dam Safety

The purpose of the Dam Safety Program is to minimize the risk of dam failure by bringing dams up to safety standards. The division has estimated that based on the current funding level, it would take 59 years to address the deficiencies of all high-hazard dams in the state.

Federal Grants

Requests for approval to apply for additional federal grants with details included in the Issue Brief, "Agencies' Requests for Federal Funds."
Appropriation Overview

During the 2015 General Session, the Legislature appropriated for Fiscal Year 2016, $18,152,300 from all sources for Water Resources. This is a 168.5 percent increase from Fiscal Year 2015 revised estimated amounts from all sources. The total includes $13,944,800 from the General/Education Funds, an increase of 388.1 percent from revised Fiscal Year 2015 estimates.

Appropriation Adjustments

In addition to statewide compensation and internal service fund cost increases, the following appropriation adjustments were made during the 2015 General Session:

DescriptionOngoingOne-Time Attorney General Dedicated Credit Adjustments$9,300$0
OngoingOne-TimeFinancing Source
$9,300$0Water Resources C and D
This item designates additional funding appropriated to an agency to pay higher costs for Attorney General services, due to statewide and AG-specific compensation increases.
Dam Safety$0$11,000,000
OngoingOne-TimeFinancing Source
$0$11,000,000General Fund, One-time
The purpose of the Dam Safety Program is to minimize the risk of dam failure by bringing dams up to safety standards. The division has estimated that based on the current funding level, it would take 59 years to address the deficiencies of all high-hazard dams in the state.
Federal Grants$0$1,210,000
OngoingOne-TimeFinancing Source
$0$1,210,000Federal Funds
Requests for approval to apply for additional federal grants with details included in the Issue Brief, "Agencies' Requests for Federal Funds."

The following are the top measures chosen by division management to gauge the success of this division.

State law requires the Board of Water Resources to start using alternative methods of financing water projects, such as interest buydown and bond insurance purchases, in addition to the traditional loan financing.

Number of Water Projects Funded by Alternative Financing

Water Projects: The second measure compares the number of projects financed with alternative funding mechanisms with the number of projects that would have been funded with standard loans.


Water Plan Documents Published

Documents Published: This measure tracks the number of water plan documents published by the division. Those include the State Water Plan, river basin plans, and special reports on planning-related topics.


The division did not meet the target for the number of publications in FY 2012 because they combined the Southeast and Southwest Colorado Water Related Land Use Inventory Reports into one document.


The following laws govern operations of the division:

  • UCA 73-10-1.5 creates the Board of Water Resources within DNR as the policy-making body of the division. The board has eight members.
  • UCA 73-10-5 requires the board to cause plans and cost estimates to be prepared for construction projects it selects. It can enter into contracts if funding availability is certified by the Division of Finance.
  • UCA 73-10-8 creates the revolving Water Resources Construction Fund. Revenues come from appropriations, repayments, money from the 500,000 acres of trust land designated for reservoirs at statehood, charges to water users, and interest. Uses include developing water conservation projects (including related expenses), and issuing loans and grants for dam safety projects. Repayment of related costs (engineering, etc.) should be paid back first and deposited in a sub-account known as the Investigation Account. Loans to dam owners must be secured by taking water rights.
  • UCA 73-10-18 creates the Division of Water Resources in DNR. Subject to the board, the division can make studies, plan for full development and utilization of the state's water, initiate investigations to develop the state water plan, and file applications in the state's name for water rights.
  • UCA 73-10-22 creates the Cities Water Loan Fund. Loans may be made to benefit cities, towns, or districts.
  • UCA 73-10-24 creates the Conservation and Development (C&D) Fund, to be administered by the board. It may be used for construction, operation, and maintenance of projects considered by the board to be outside the scope of financing by the Construction Fund.
  • UCA 73-10-25.1 allows the board to enter into credit enhancements and interest buy-down agreements to enhance the ability of political subdivisions to obtain funding.
  • UCA 73-10-27 requires C&D projects to be in the public interest and adequately designed. Priority for funds is given to: State or political subdivisions; Critical local needs; Projects with greater economic feasibility; Projects which will yield revenue within a reasonable time or interest rate.
  • UCA 73-10-31 requires that at least ten percent of the combined annual funding from the loan funds be for credit enhancements and interest buy-downs.
  • UCA 73-10-32 requires the division to help water providers prepare and adopt a water conservation plan. The board must provide guidelines. The board must publish the names of those who do not comply in a newspaper and cannot give public funds to them.
  • UCA 73-23-3 requires the division to provide for the construction, operation and maintenance of the West Desert Pumping Project.
  • UCA 73-26-104 directs the division to develop the surface waters of the Bear River.
  • UCA 73-28-201 directs the board to construct, own, maintain, and operate the Lake Powell Pipeline project.
  • UCA 73-10-1 includes policy statements regarding the value and need for a revolving fund.

The Division of Water Resources is the water resource authority for the state, assuring the orderly planning, development and protection of Utah's water. It does this through conservation, planning, participation in interstate streams negotiations and financial assistance programs (click on the link http://naturalresources.utah.gov/divisions/water-resources.html to go to the website).


Given that Utah has near the lowest annual precipitation of any state, residents throughout history have been compelled to adjust to limited water resources and to develop more water as growth continues. As the demand for water has grown, the Legislature has established various loan funds to provide funding for water development.

Five state boards currently direct the various water loan programs of the state. These are the Water Resources Board, the Water Quality Board, the Drinking Water Board, the Permanent Community Impact Board, and the Soil Conservation Commission. It has been estimated that state funding sources have been supporting approximately 20% of Utah water and wastewater development needs. All of the state water boards require water conservation plans as a condition of financing. The Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee oversees the Water Resources Board, the Drinking Water Board, the Water Quality Board and the Soil Conservation Commission.

The Water Resources Board manages three loan funds:

  • The Revolving Construction Fund, established in 1947
  • The Cities Water Loan Fund, established in 1974
  • The Conservation and Development Fund, established in 1978

Beginning in FY 1998, legislation directed a portion of revenues from a 1/16 percent sales tax to be deposited in the Conservation and Development Fund (see Sales Tax Distribution Chart). More information on the use of the sales tax money can be found in the Conservation and Development Fund section.

The Water Resources Board has a goal to reduce the year 2000 per capita municipal and industrial water consumption in Utah by at least 25% before year 2025. If this can be accomplished, it would provide the same benefit as development of over 500,000 acre feet of water per year, savings estimated to be over $5 billion.

Intent Language

HB0003: Item 107

Under the terms of 63J-1-603 of the Utah Code, the Legislature intends that appropriations provided for the Division of Water Resources in Item 15, Chapter 5, Laws of Utah 2014, shall not lapse at the close of FY 2015. Expenditures of these funds are limited to: Current Expenses $50,000; Computer Equipment/Software $25,000; Special Projects/Studies $125,000.

The operating budget for the Division of Water Resources is funded almost equally from the General Fund and transfers from the Conservation and Development (C&D) Fund.

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COBI contains unaudited data as presented to the Legislature by state agencies at the time of publication. For audited financial data see the State of Utah's Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports.