Agricultural Water Optimization Task Force

Alfalfa imageThe Agricultural Water Optimization Task Force was formed to identify critical issues facing the State’s long-term water supply, to optimize agricultural water supply for future needs, and to sustain Utah’s vital agriculture industry and heritage. The task force will also identify obstacles and constraints to optimization and recommend ways to improve the quantification of agricultural water use. 

This will help the State evaluate ways to improve agricultural water use practices, create benefits for farmers, optimize water use, and protect water quantity and quality for all uses in the system. 

The task force will share its findings with the legislative Water Development Commission; the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee; the Executive Water Task Force; water providers; and the general public.

HB381 Agricultural Water Optimization

HB39 Agricultural Water Optimization Task Force Amendments


Case Studies & Reports

Literature Review of Current & Upcoming Irrigation Technologies and Practices Applicable to Utah – (November 2020) Irrigation is essential for economical agriculture production in western semi-arid regions such as Utah. The effects of droughts and competition for water due to population growth will mean more effective use of agricultural water supplies will be needed in the future. This literature review examines the historic, current and upcoming irrigation technologies and practices applicable to the State of Utah. Irrigators in the State continue to make steady improvements towards adopting technologies that enable them to both improve water use efficiency and improve overall crop productivity while protecting the environment.

Irrigation Water Use – Drip v Surface Irrigation of Onions – (August 2020) Interim Draft Report Utah Agricultural Optimization. Agricultural water optimization is important in Utah due to increased water needs, limited water supply, and uncertain climate changes that may affect water supplies. Water shortages can dramatically affect agricultural, municipal, and environmental users. Agriculture diverts about 80% of all diversion in Utah. This Agricultural Water Optimization study, which began in 2019, is to determine differences in consumptive water use or depletion between drip and surface irrigation onions. Onions were selected because Utah growers currently use both drip and surface irrigation.

Ag Water Optimization Task Force Summary  – (June 26, 2020) Task Force facilitator provides an overview of progress and next steps for the end of fiscal year 2020 in this video summary.

Depletion Accounting for Irrigation Water Rights in Utah – (June 2020) Producers have asked the Utah Division of Water Rights to consider new means of administering water rights by depletion rather than the historic method of irrigation diversion duty and number of acres irrigated. Administering irrigation rights by depletion requires accurate, effective, and defensible means to measure and account for actual depletion. With numerous available and emerging methodologies to do so, the Legislative Agricultural Water Optimization Task Force sought to evaluate and identify the most practical, effective, and defensible means of measuring and accounting for actual depletion in Utah.

Case Study of Emery County Agriculture Water Quantification System Implementation  – (March 2020)  The overall purpose of this project is to engage stakeholders in Emery County (including water managers and producers) and to understand, document, and evaluate the drivers, methods, costs, benefits and lessons learned from the implementation of a network of flow measurement structures with transparent, Real-Time Monitoring and Control System.

Research Plan for Agricultural Water Optimization in Utah – (February 2019) This memorandum takes a look at what water and agricultural management practices can maintain or increase agricultural production while minimizing impacts upon water supply, water quality and the environment. The report outlines a research framework at both the basin and on-farm scale in Utah.

Published June 11, 2021

Extreme drought continues to plague the state, so the Utah Division of Water Resources has replaced its traditional lawn watering guide with an “Extreme Drought Watering Guide” to reflect drought actions. The “Drought Watering Guide” replaces the popular Weekly Lawn Watering Guide (we hope temporarily) and focuses on “survival watering.” While extreme drought conditions exist, …

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Published June 9, 2021

Compliments? Or complaints? The Hall of Fame or Shame was created in 2017 in response to requests from the public for a reporting tool to shine the spotlight on waterwise behavior – as well as point out water waste. The fame option allows citizens to report their own or another’s great waterwise behavior, which we …

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Published June 9, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY (June 8, 2021) – Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox issued another executive order further restricting water use at state facilities. He also announced a prohibition on fireworks for all state and unincorporated lands. “All indicators show this could be the worst drought year on record,” Gov. Cox said. “Utah state government is …

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