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Thank you to everyone who attended the 11th Annual Salt Lake County Watershed Symposium! This free two-day conference encourages a comprehensive review of the current state of our watershed while creating learning opportunities for a diverse array of stakeholders. Sessions covered a broad range of topics on water quality and watershed issues with local, regional, and national relevance. Hosted by Salt Lake County Watershed Planning & Restoration.

Powerpoints and audio recordings are available.  Click on a session and scroll down to the attached files.
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Policy & Law [clear filter]
Wednesday, November 15
 

8:40am

KEYNOTE Unveiling the Anthropocene—A Super Wicked Story
KEYNOTE Unveiling the Anthropocene—A Super Wicked Story

Humanity’s disruption of the planetary climate system represents an existential threat to an organized global community. This is the robust conclusion of an extraordinarily large scientific community, based on an observational dataset of unprecedented scale. And yet, global climate disruption is but one of a host of existential environmental challenges we face, all emergent from the same underlying pathologies. At this juncture, with an unprecedented opportunity to begin the transformation to a truly sustainable human civilization, it is critical that we address our challenges holistically, each in context of all the others. Fortunately, solid frameworks are emerging for doing exactly this.

Speakers
avatar for Robert Davies

Robert Davies

Physicist, Utah State University
Dr. Robert Davies is Associate Professor of Professional Practice with Utah State University’s Dep’t of Physics. Focusing on synthesizing and communicating a broad range of Earth- and human systems science through a lens of human sustainability, Rob has been communicating climate... Read More →



9:10am

Creating Water Strategy Using High-Altitude Idea Collisions
Creating Water Strategy Using High-Altitude Idea Collisions

Summary:
In 2013, Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert launched a water strategy initiative that became a three-phase, four-year process and ended in an exemplary synthesis of ideas and ideologies. The presentation describes lessons learned by the team in managing the “human factor” among the high deserts, political polarity, and powdery peaks of Utah.

Full Abstract:
Creating Water Strategy Using High-Altitude Idea Collisions In 2013, Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert launched a water strategy initiative that became a three-phase, four-year process and ended in an exemplary synthesis of ideas and ideologies. The process culminated in a series of reports, with a 201-page final report and its 93 recommendations delivered to Gov. Herbert by the diverse 41-member advisory team in July, 2017.

The three phases produced distinct deliverables consisting of:
  • In Phase 1, extensive public comments and written reports on six key topics. 
  • In Phase 2, participation in the Envision Utah Your Utah, Your Future statewide visioning project. The project produced two public values surveys that ranked water as the most significant issue affecting Utah’s future. 
  • In Phase 3, a 201-page final report from a diverse 41-member advisory team that included 93 recommendations organized around eleven key policy questions. 
The key policy questions addressed are listed below (quoted verbatim from the report):
1. What is the role of water conservation and efficiency in Utah?
2. How will diverted water supplies be developed to meet competing and ever increasing demands?
3. How does Utah provide water for agricultural lands and food production in the face of competing water demands?
4. What should we do to preserve natural systems in the face of increasing water demands?
5. How do we protect and sustain the quality of Utah’s water?
6. How will Utah plan for, adequately fund, and use innovative solutions to maintain, replace, and redesign existing water infrastructure and build new water infrastructure over the next 40-50 years?
7. In what ways will weather and a changing climate impact future water supply and demand?
8. How do we optimize our water resources to sustain the economy and quality of life for Utah residents?
9. What is the framework for Utah water law and policy, and how will stakeholders modernize it?
10. What is the role of policymakers, both elected and appointed, at all levels of government?
11. What roles will science, technology, and innovation play in addressing Utah's future water needs?

The team included a broad range of stakeholder interests and viewpoints, yet the team members reached agreement on the report. As stated in the report, the advisory team recommendations represent not only a collaborative and balanced look at the key water issues facing Utah, but also an outreach and education effort to Governor Herbert and other “elected officials and policymakers, water planners, state and federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, water user groups, and the public at large.” The presentation describes interplay among the stakeholders in developing a consensus report, key findings, the team decisions to emphasize climate change adaptation rather than causation, and to emphasize conservation, and the prospects for implementation of significant recommendations. It also includes lessons learned by the team in managing the “human factor” among the high deserts, political polarity, and powdery peaks of Utah.

Speakers
avatar for Ari Bruening

Ari Bruening

Chief Operating Officer, Envision Utah
Ari Bruening has extensive experience in visioning and implementation efforts for regions and large-scale projects. Prior to joining Envision Utah, he helped manage visioning and entitlement projects for the San Diego region; Laie, Hawaii; the 93,000-acre Kennecott Land Company project... Read More →



9:50am

The Great Water Decoupling, the Bear River and the Salt Lake Valley
The Great Water Decoupling, the Bear River and the Salt Lake Valley

Summary:
Although some believe the Wasatch Front is need more water for growth, booming cities outside Utah have seen water demand drop through a mix of good planning, clever storytelling and market economics. Come learn how this Great Decoupling has been achieved and what must happen for it to occur in Salt Lake County and the Wasatch Front.

Full Abstract:
For decades, water leaders across the American West have been warning the public about the coming water shortage due to population growth occurring in an arid land. Media stories have showered our culture in a cloud of doom about the coming water crisis owed to our love of urban growth and its impacts upon our environment. Conservationists have drawn a line in the sand trying to save the last of our aquatic landscapes, turning water planning dialogues into ethical lessons about climate change and species extinction. But a funny thing happened on the way to the debate: The Great Decoupling. In contrast to what the Population Bomb taught us, municipal water use has decreased in the face of rapid population growth. This Decoupling between population growth and municipal water demand can be seen again and again over the last 20 years outside Utah, where communities are reaping the rewards from decisions made by a new generation of water planners. Urban centers like Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles decreased their total water demand, even while their population has greatly increased over several decades. Contrary to past dire warnings about running out of municipal water, a new generation of water leaders has managed to implement sustainable water policies originating out of a combination of economics, grassroots education and cutting edge marketing. Much is at stake for the Salt Lake Valley, as some water leaders claim that multi-billion Bear River Development is essential to the future of suburban residents, less our municipal population runs out of this precious liquid we all love. But critics worry about the project’s many impacts since the Bear River is the single largest source of surface water to the Great Salt Lake. Many fear proposed Bear River Development will lower the elevation of the Lake dramatically, impacting the hundreds of migratory bird species which rely upon the Lake’s shoreline wetlands in their travels across the Western Hemisphere. Health advocates worry about air quality impacts from the project by virtue of increasing lakebed airborne dust levels during windstorms. Will Utah experience the Great Decoupling and avoid these impacts? In this workshop, we explore how large urban centers managed to grow their populations while either decreasing or keeping their total water demand level. These communities reduced water use by changing their perspective on how they communicate water stories, how they value water and how they market water to their constituents. Participants will come away with bold new perspectives on water in Utah, why it matters how we value water, how we communicate water decisions and identify opportunities to apply this perspective to Utah water dialogues differently.

Speakers
ZF

Zachary Frankel

Executive Director, Utah Rivers Council
Zachary Frankel is the founder and Executive Director of the Utah Rivers Council. Zach started the organization in 1995 after he received his B.S. in Biology at the University of Utah. Zach has been working on water education and conservation across the American West for over 25 years... Read More →
DM

Dan McCool

Professor Emeritus, Political Science Department, University of Utah
Dan McCool is the former director of Environmental & Sustainability Studies at the University of Utah. Dan has written and been interviewed widely on environmental issues, particularly related to water in the west. He holds a Ph.D.in Political Science from the University of Arizo... Read More →



11:20am

Partnering to Build Effective Drought Early Warning Systems
Partnering to Build Effective Drought Early Warning Systems

Summary:
This presentation focuses on support provided to Utah and to the nation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Integrated Drought Information System and the Western Water Assessment for more effective drought mitigation and drought response planning.

Full Abstract:
Drought is a significant threat to the economy, to municipal and industrial water supplies, and to social and environmental resilience. In the West, increasing population threatens limited and variable water resources and will push drought to the forefront of water issues. The cyclical nature of drought guarantees that Utah will experience drought in the future, so a pro-active risk reduction approach to drought is a critical priority. This presentation focuses on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), which was created in 2006 by public law to catalyze drought research and systematic planning for more effective drought mitigation and response. NIDIS is mandated to provide drought early warning systems (DEWS) that support decision-makers, the private sector, and communities to establish and strengthen a pro-active, coordinated approach to prepare for and reduce risks of future droughts. DEWS build on and leverage existing local, state, academic, regional, and national partnerships and networks. A key NIDIS partner is NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA), a network that includes Western Water Assessment (WWA), which provides climate information, analyses and original research to support decision-makers in the Intermountain West. In this presentation, Elizabeth Weight (NOAA/NIDIS) and Seth Arens (WWA) will share information on NIDIS, DEWS, and WWA research that supports drought preparedness in Utah.

Speakers
SA

Seth Arens

Utah Research Integration Specialist, Western Water Assessment
Seth Arens has served as the Utah Research Integration Specialist for Western Water Assessment since 2015. He has a diverse background in science, including research experience in ecosystem and plant physiological ecology, snow hydrology and atmospheric science. From 2010 to 2015... Read More →
EW

Elizabeth Weight

Regional Drought Information Coordinator, National Integrated Drought Information System, NOAA
Elizabeth Weight is the Regional Drought Information Coordinator for the Intermountain West and Southern Plains Drought Early Warning Systems of NOAA's National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). Prior to joining NIDIS, Elizabeth worked with research institutes and non-profit... Read More →



12:50pm

Poster Session
The poster session is a forum for presenters from around the world to highlight programs and to share successful ideas with colleagues by presenting a research study, a practical problem-solving effort, an innovative program, and more. Poster presentations provide other conference participants an opportunity to quickly and easily become acquainted with a variety of topics.

Check the POSTERS tab to see all poster presenters!


 
Thursday, November 16
 

8:40am

KEYNOTE Salt Lake County's Climate Adaptation Plan for Public Health
KEYNOTE Salt Lake County's Climate Adaptation Plan for Public Health

The release of greenhouse gases into the earth's atmosphere has set the climate on a course to change drastically in the near future, and these changes are having a significant impact on human health in Salt Lake County. There is broad scientific consensus that climate change is occuring at a rate raste than previously anticipated, and is causing warmer temperatures, droughts, and more frequent extreme weather events in our region. It is important that we take action now, both to mitigate the impacts of climate change and to develop adaptation strategies that enhance the region's resiliency to the inevitable changes it will experience. Many responses to climate change could positively impact the region in multiple ways, simultaneously reducing the burden of disease, saving money, protecting the environment, developing community, and addressing inequality. Salt Lake County's Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Public Health will provide a plan for organizations in the Salt Lake region to respond to the health impacts of climate change, serving to build a healthier, more resilient community, and setting an example for other local health departments in Utah.

Speakers
avatar for Royal DeLegge

Royal DeLegge

Director, Environmental Health, Salt Lake County Health Department
Royal DeLegge has served as Environmental Health Director for the Salt Lake County Health Department since August 1999. Previously, Royal served as Director of Environmental Health for the Winnebago County Health Department in Rockford, Illinois and before that held various positions... Read More →



9:05am

Panel Discussion on Local Watershed Planning Efforts and Implementation in the Wasatch Mountains
Panel Discussion on Local Watershed Planning Efforts and Implementation in the Wasatch Mountains 

This panel will discuss local planning and implementation efforts along in the Wasatch Mountains in Salt Lake County as two major plans kick off updates. The panel will include discussion of the history of planning efforts for these mountain watersheds as well as emerging issues current planning efforts have yet to address. In addition, the discussion will include the coordination of the plan updates.


Moderators
avatar for Alan Matheson

Alan Matheson

Executive Director, Utah Department of Environmental Quality
Alan Matheson is the Executive Director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and policy advisor to Governor Gary R. Herbert. He also served as State Planning Coordinator. Alan previously was an attorney practicing energy, natural resources and water law, and served as Executive... Read More →

Speakers
avatar for Laura Briefer

Laura Briefer

Director, Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities
Laura Briefer is the Director of Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities where she has worked for 10 years in various areas of the organization and has 23 years professional experience in natural resource and environmental professions in the public, private, and non-profit sectors... Read More →
avatar for Teresa Gray

Teresa Gray

Bureau Manager, Water Quality Hazardous Waste, Salt Lake County Health Department
Teresa Gray is the Bureau Manager Water Quality and Hazardous Waste for the Salt Lake County Health Department which consists of 19 programs.  She has been a Licensed Environmental Health Scientist for over 20 years. Her focus is on building partnerships. She has extensive knowledge... Read More →
avatar for Bekee Hotze

Bekee Hotze

Distric Ranger, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
Bekee Hotze is the District Ranger for the Salt Lake Ranger District, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. She graduated from Northland College with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She worked for Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission in fisheries and the Wisconsin DNR... Read More →
avatar for Wilf Sommerkorn

Wilf Sommerkorn

Director, Salt Lake County Regional Planning & Transportation
Wilf Sommerkorn is the Director of Regional Planning and Transportation for Salt Lake County.  He was Salt Lake City Planning Director from 2008 to 2014.  Prior to that, Wilf was Director of the Davis County Community & Economic Development Department for 14 years.  He was a planner... Read More →



10:20am

Water Quality Studies, TMDLs, Project Work...Oh My!
Water Quality Studies, TMDLs, Project Work...Oh My!

Summary:
Utah Division of Water Quality (UDWQ) is conducting several water quality studies within the Utah Lake-Jordan River watershed. These studies delve deep into the world of protecting and improving water quality along the Wasatch Front.

Full Abstract:
Utah Division of Water Quality (UDWQ) is conducting several water quality studies within the Utah Lake-Jordan River watershed. These studies delve deep into the world of protecting and improving water quality along the Wasatch Front. Utah Lake’s water quality study will determine the effects of nutrients on the ecological integrity of the lake and help establish protective endpoints for the future. UDWQ is also focusing on the next phase of the Lower Jordan River Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Total Maximum Daily Load. In Phase 1 bulk load allocations of organic matter were established for both point and nonpoint sources. Phase 2 will focus on applying a more robust model to develop specific load allocations for sources throughout the watershed. In addition to in-depth water quality studies, UDWQ is also participating in on-going remediation efforts along the mainstem of the Jordan River and tributaries. This work is often accomplished through a cohort of partnering entities who share a common goal of preserving water quality throughout the watershed.

Speakers
SD

Scott Daly

Environmental Scientist, Utah Division of Water Quality
Scott Daly is the Utah Lake Watershed Coordinator for the Utah Division of Water Quality’s Watershed Protection Section. In this role he is involved in a diverse range of activities related to Utah Lake including scientific water quality studies, watershed planning, nonpoint source... Read More →
LP

Lucy Parham

Environmental Scientist, Utah Division of Water Quality
Lucy Parham is a TMDL and watershed coordinator for the Utah Division of Water Quality. She currently manages watershed implementation in the Uinta Basin and TMDL development for the Jordan River. Prior to working for DWQ, she was a water resources consultant in Salt Lake City where... Read More →
SW

Sandy Wingert

Environmental Scientist, UDWQ
Sandy Wingert is an Environmental Scientist who has worked for the Utah Division of Water Quality for past 11 years. She got her Master’s degree in Environmental Health from the University of South Carolina. For the State, she is charged with all things related to water quality... Read More →



3:30pm

Lower Jordan River Dissolved Oxygen—Is Additional Flow the Answer?
Lower Jordan River Dissolved Oxygen—Is Additional Flow the Answer?

Summary:
Low concentrations of dissolved oxygen (DO) are a concern in some segments of the Jordan River. The Jordan River Commission and other stakeholders are looking for opportunities to address acute and chronic DO concerns in the lower Jordan River with flow management. Our presentation will provide an update on this effort during the past 3 years.

Full Abstract:
Low concentrations of dissolved oxygen (DO) are a concern in some segments of the Jordan River. The Jordan River Commission and other stakeholders are looking for opportunities to address acute and chronic DO concerns in the lower Jordan River with flow management. In 2014, the Jordan River Commission completed the first phase of a study investigating the use of flow manipulation as a potential mechanism for increasing DO during the late summer season in the Lower Jordan River (LJR). On the basis of data review and QUAL2Kw model output, the report recommended empirical studies to definitively answer two key questions: (1) Is there a defined, positive correlation between flow and DO, and (2) Is there a minimum flow threshold that will support DO levels above chronic conditions in the late summer months? Acting on that recommendation, the Jordan River Commission took steps to implement a flow experiment on the lower Jordan River in 2016/2017. The intent was to manipulate flows and monitor the resulting effects on DO in the problematic reach. Acquiring sufficient water rights has slowed implementation of the study, but significant progress has occurred from discussions with Utah Division of Water Rights and the project could realistically begin in 2018. A recent analysis of historic flow increases (non-storm events) to the LJR have shown high variability and both a positive and negative DO response. However, even small flow increases (< 30 cfs) during late summer and early fall seasons show positive improvements in DO. This experiment is unique in the history of Utah water quality remediation and could lay a foundation for similar work in other watersheds. The experiment goes beyond the simple philosophy of "the solution to pollution is dilution", as many factors and processes combine to influence DO in the Jordan River. Under certain conditions influenced by season, magnitude, and duration, additional flow can produce a negative DO response. Participants attending this session will gain an understanding of historic LJR water rights and how they have evolved to influence existing flow patterns in the river. They will learn about the proposed flow experiment and what challenges remain to implement long-term flow management. They will also learn about DO processes in the Jordan River and the patterns of diel DO recorded at permanent monitoring sites in the LJR from 2012 to the present.

Speakers
avatar for Eric Duffin

Eric Duffin

Watershed Scientist, Cirrus Ecological Solutions
Eric Duffin is experienced in the field of watershed science including hydrology, soil physics, fluvial geomorphology, and computer science. He has been employed at Cirrus Ecological Solutions since 2000. During his professional career, he has managed eight TMDL (water quality) projects... Read More →
SS

Soren Simonsen

Executive Director, Jordan River Commission
Soren Simonsen is the Executive Director of the Jordan River Commission. He is an urban planner, architect, educator, community-builder and social entrepreneur. Over the past three decades, including 18 years of public service as an elected and appointed official, he has worked to... Read More →