The nation’s fastest-growing and second-driest state had a banner year for water conservation as it plays catch-up to the rest of the West.

By Mark Olalde, ProPublica

Utah policymakers billed the 2022 legislative session as the “year of water.” Gov. Spencer Cox signed into law more than 15 measures related to water conservation, heralding “generational” progress as the West’s megadrought continues well into its third decade.

Those pieces of legislation allow farmers to earn money by sending their water downstream to shrinking lakes, require water meters for landscaping, appropriate $40 million to protect the Great Salt Lake and more. But perhaps more telling were proposals that lawmakers carved up or voted down.

Burmester, Great Salt Lake, Utah a dried out portion with dead trees in the distance

Legislators in the country’s fastest-growing and second-driest state rejected a bill meant to address leaky pipes. New laws aimed at mandating low-flow plumbing both in state facilities and new homes had to be scaled back to win passage. And regulations on Utah’s lush green lawns remained largely off-limits, as interest groups stalled or rewrote bills targeting grass.

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