Why Put Water Use And Preservation In A General Plan?

Water use is an issue on everyone’s mind, especially in arid Great Basin states like Utah and Wyoming. In fact, in Cedar City, Utah, political events such as council debates or forums with the Governor rarely saw more than fifty people in attendance. However, in 2021, the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District had an informational event in Cedar regarding the future of water rights, and the room was packed with over 200 concerned citizens in attendance! This sort of public concern is not a surprise, given the degree of drought over the past few years beating previous records. 

It’s obvious that water use in many states cannot continue its historical annual growth rate, and that planning and conservation need to become a priority for the sake of future generations. In any municipality, the general plan is the perfect starting point for making long-term changes.

A general plan is an official document in which a community comes together, gives input, and provides direction and focus for the future development of the community. Sort of like an enterprising fortune teller, general plans predict the future by creating blueprints for it. 

§10-9a-401 of Utah State Code outlines that a general plan is a comprehensive, long-range plan for the present and future needs of the municipality that addresses growth and development of all or any part of the land within the municipality. State statue also outlines that the general plan may provide for:

  • The health, general welfare, safety, energy conservation, transportation, prosperity, civic activities, aesthetics, and recreational, education, and cultural opportunities;
  • The reduction of the waste of physical, financial, or human resources that result from either excessive congestion or excessive scattering of population;
  • The efficient and economical use, conservation, and production of the supply of food and water and drainage, sanitary, and other facilities and resources;
  • The use of energy conservation and solar and renewable energy resources;
  • The protection of urban development; 
  • The protection or promotion of moderate-income housing; 
  • The protection and promotion of air quality; 
  • The protection of historical sites;
  • The identification of future uses of land that are likely to require an expansion or significant modification of services or facilities provided by an affected entity;
  • An official map; and
  • For specific municipalities, a moderate income housing element.