Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service

Project Prologue

Aquifer Classifications

Utah Aquifer Classifications The October 4, 1984 Governor’s Executive Order stated that it will be Utah’s ground water protection policy that “The quality of ground water will be protected to a degree commensurate with current and probable future uses.  Preventive measures will be taken to minimize contamination of the resources so that current and future public and private beneficial uses will not be impaired.” Classification still remains the primary means for implementing this policy. The Utah Ground Water Quality Protection Regulations, R-317-6-5, defines procedures for preparing a petition to classify entire aquifers or parts of an aquifer as a method for maintaining ground water quality in these areas. By classifying an aquifer, the limit of degradation allowable in ground water is established. Aquifer classification does not mandate any specific actions for local planning and zoning, nor obligate local governments to perform any technical assessments or monitoring, nor restrict existing or future land use.  Any entity may petition the Utah Water Quality Board for the classification or reclassification of an aquifer.  During the Michael O Leavitt’s administration, January 1993 through November 2003, five areas in the state classified their aquifers.  They were: Wasatch County (Heber Valley and Round Valley) in 1995; Ogden Valley in 1999; Tooele Valley in 1999; Cache Valley in 2001; Cedar Valley in Iron County in 2002. The benefits provided to these communities within the classified areas included: an increase local awareness and understanding of ground water resources and hydrology regime; the ability to make better land-use management decisions on siting new potential ground water contaminating activities such as solid waste disposal and sewage treatment facilities and planning decisions for residential, commercial, and industrial development; an understanding that ground water quality may vary considerably because of natural and anthropogenic contamination; the identification of existing potential ground water contamination sources; the ability to provide better protection to areas of high quality ground water and lesser protection given to areas of poorer quality.  Most importantly, all communities within classified aquifer areas recognize the importance of protecting ground water and how critical it is to the continuance of our present quality of life and for industry and agriculture.

Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service