Geography, history and national politics have a profound influence on water management in Utah. Drainage basins covering more than half the state are associated with interstate streams.
The water resources of these areas are governed by state water law, as well as interstate compacts. In addition, over two-thirds of the lands of the state are owned and administered by the federal government (federal laws and regulations associated with these lands present unique problems to state water planners and administrators). Increased environmental awareness has generated federal legislation that significantly constrains the formulation and implementation of water-related activities.
The Board of Water Resources, with the approval of the executive director of the Department of Natural Resources and the governor, designates a representative of the state of Utah in all interstate conferences and meetings between the state of Utah and one or more basin states held to enter into compacts to divide interstate waters or to discuss interstate streams issues. The division director serves as Utah's Interstate Streams Commissioner; is Utah's representative on the Upper Colorado River Commission, Bear River Commission, Western States Water Council, Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum and Advisory Council, Committee of Fourteen, and Governor's Representative on Colorado River Management.
Because control of much of Utah's water resources is affected by actions of other states and federal agencies, significant effort must be devoted to monitoring, coordinating and negotiating to minimize adverse impacts. Active participation on selected interstate and state/federal bodies is essential to protect Utah's interests.