Democrats Oppose Bills that Target Watershed Protections of Large Utah Cities

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: March 1, 2018

Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 |

Democrats Oppose Bills that Target Watershed Protections of Large Utah Cities

SALT LAKE CITY – Today the House voted in favor of two bills that target the water management practices of large Utah cities, and specifically Salt Lake City. 3rd Sub. H.B. 135, “Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Amendments,” sponsored by Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, would remove the ability of large municipalities like Salt Lake City to effectively and safely regulate watersheds outside of their jurisdictions. Another bill, H.B. 124, sponsored by Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, would require cities to report to state officials details about how they provide water to areas inside and outside their municipal boundaries.  

The House voted 58 to 12 in favor of H.B. 124, in a party line vote. Following that vote, the House cut short debate over 3rd Sub. H.B. 135 and voted 42 to 26 in favor of the bill.

“The combination of all these bills is concerning for us who live in Salt Lake City,” said Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City. “Yes, these water rights are complicated. Should they be cleaned up? Yes. But for 130 years, we have accumulated a lot of water rights. The water coming out of those canyons is critical. We really don’t want to see it put at risk.”

Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, said, “This bill removes the jurisdiction of the entire watershed. If we’re going to have water pollution, it comes from a lot further than 300 feet away from streams.”  

Rep. Poulson added, “None of us appreciate it, but having clean water is one of the best public health issues we have here. The canyons area I represent provides so much of the clean water for the state of Utah.  I think changing this law and removing this jurisdiction could result in real problems for our water quality.  This fixes a problem that isn’t there.”

Both bills now go to the Senate for consideration.