State Climatologist Advises Water Strategy Team

Jul 19, 2017

Utah Governor Gary Herbert has accepted a Water Strategy Advisory Team Report outlining recommendations for infrastructure, legal and policy needs to help meet future water demands.

Four years ago the governor asked a 41-member committee of volunteers to review current water resources and project water needs for the state.

Utah Climate Center Director and State Climatologist Robert Gillies served on the governor's committee that gathered public input to help develop a state water plan to address water needs during the next 50 years.

"We really needed a lot of different expertise from all facets of society,” Gillies said. “Scientists, social scientist, politicians, industrialists etc., etc., and water managers, they were critically important in this process."

The committee uses tables and lists in the report to outline problems and structure proposed solutions on how to deal with changes in climate, for example. Gillies used his expertise as the only climatologist on the committee to explain how changes in weather patterns are bringing more rain and less snow to the state. He says these changes make it necessary for western state lawmakers to consider ways to meet future water needs here and in other states.

"Climate change, it's a global problem and water with the western U.S. is, shall we say, is not a state-by-state problem but a compilation of states problem to solve,” Gillies said.

Conservation, water supply management, ecosystem health and water funding recommendations are included in the document. According to the governor’s office  recommendations also include strategies to be considered by state and local leaders, businesses, Utah families and others to ensure Utah has the water resources to maintain a high quality of life, a healthy environment and a thriving economy.