Warren Peterson, Keynote

State Water Strategy Advisory Team Co-chair


Warren Peterson is vice president of a multinational farm and ranch investment and management company. Previously, he practiced agricultural and water law for 29 years. He has four decades of involvement in water policy development.

Warren has served as chair of the Utah Board of Water Resources and agricultural co-chair of the Utah Water Strategy Team. He is currently a member of the Utah Executive Water Task Force and the Utah Water Development Commission. He was a primary author of Agricultural Water:  Protecting the Future of Our Nation, Texas A&M University–Kingsville (2012).

He received his J.D. from the University of Utah and B.S., magna cum laude, from Utah State University. He lives on a ditch the end of a terminal river system in the Great Basin high desert of central Utah.

Title: 41 Resolute Members, Four Years, 93 Recommendations – One State Water Strategy Report

Thursday, May 10th, 8:10 AM

Abstract: Utah faces daunting challenges as one of the driest states and one of the fastest growing. At the convergence of these two realities lies the challenge of providing water for a population projected to nearly double by 2060, while maintaining strong farms and industries as well as healthy rivers, lakes, wetlands, and aquifers. At the same time, climate projections predict warming temperatures that will significantly decrease Utah’s snowpack, which provides more water storage capacity than all of Utah’s human-made reservoirs combined, and increased evapotranspiration rates.

In 2013, Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert launched a water strategy initiative to address these concerns. The initiative became a three-phase process:

  • The first phase involved six water professionals who participated in eight facilitated public comment and discussion sessions, then prepared white papers on six topics.
  • For the second phase, Gov. Herbert appointed a 41-member team of diverse water experts who served as the water issues advisory team to the Envision Utah team Your Utah, Your Future project and the resulting report from Envision Utah. 
  • In the third phase, the diverse 41-member team, with staff support from Envision Utah and other organizations, generated a 201-page final report presenting 93 recommendations. 

The team delivered its report to Gov. Herbert on July 19, 2017 and then disbanded. Click here to read the Recommended State Water Strategy.

This presentation: 

  • Describes interplay among the team members and their constituencies in developing consensus on the form of the final report.
  • Some of the key findings. 
  • How the team reached key decisions.
  • Prospects for implementation of major recommendations. 

It also includes lessons learned as the team navigated the “human factor” among the realities of water supply challenges, terminal river systems, political polarity, and pressing demands amidst the high deserts and powdery peaks of Utah.

Headgate corn and sunrise