Securing Utah’s Water Future: Telling our Corporate Water Story in Washington, D.C.

When it comes to influencing public policy, stories matter. Last week, the Salt Lake Chamber traveled to Washington, D.C. with an elite group of business leaders from across the country to tell Utah’s corporate water story and speak with lawmakers and other government officials about the importance of securing a water future where our communities and environment, as well as our agriculture, business and industry can flourish.

This opportunity speaks to the Chamber’s respected leadership role in water issues on a state and national level and reinforces the Chamber’s longstanding policy priorities, including supporting aggressive corporate water optimization and conservation efforts, a data-driven water strategy and policies that price water at its true value by having users bear the primary role in funding water infrastructure.

Michael Parker, Salt Lake ChamberMichael Parker, the Salt Lake Chamber’s vice president of public policy, served as the chief storyteller for Utah’s business community during the two days of meetings in our nation’s capital. Other attendees included representatives from the Coca-Cola Company, Santec, SUEZ Water Technologies & Solutions and staff members from Business for Water Stewardship, the organization that coordinated the trip.

During the meetings, the group’s top priority was sharing the corporate water story within the Colorado River basin from various angles. From consumer-facing businesses to water engineering and technology firms to business associations—all have value and an important role to play in advancing sound water policy.

Parker shared with government officials Utah’s business community’s commitment to water issues, gave examples of local businesses who are leading the way in water conservation and optimization actions, and explained how the Chamber engages with its members, state government leaders, water districts, and planning and research groups to collaborate and find solutions.

The group also focused broadly on current levels of water stress in the American West, specifically the Colorado River basin. In this case, the business voice is critical to driving innovation and collaboration that will contribute to finding a more sustainable path forward. The group made it clear that in addition to corporate leadership, federal funding, programs and partnerships to address water and drought management and investment are vital to successfully securing our water future. The message was well received in the various meetings with Senate and House offices, including Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Rob Bishop, as well as key committees for water programs important to the basin’s efforts to improve water stewardship from all users.

Ultimately, this trip provided many valuable takeaways, including the power of business engagement on this issue and the need to proactively engage as a coalition of users from every sector, from every state within the Colorado River basin, to advance public policy that benefits all of us. This effort showed that Utah’s business community is leading the way in making decisions and taking actions to conserve and optimize water use.

If your company is looking for a way to share your water story, look no further than the Salt Lake Chamber’s Water Champions program. Water Champions are businesses that know and understand how much water they use, identify opportunities for savings, set water optimization or conservation goals and then build them into corporate culture. When a company signs up to be a Water Champion they get to tell their story, which the Chamber will use to recognize the company for its leadership, share best practices with other businesses and maybe even use it when advocating for water issues on Capitol Hill.

All credit for organizing this valuable DC fly-in goes to Business for Water Stewardship, an organization of professionals focused on collaborating with corporate partners to advance corporate water stewardship strategies, influence water management and policy actions, directly support on-the-ground environmental water stewardship projects, and engage stakeholders in water conservation and restoration efforts. Business for Water Stewardship, particularly its policy director, Craig Mackey, has acted as a great partner with the Chamber in supporting the “Utah | Water is Your Business” initiative and Water Champions program.

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