Document Type


Publication Date

January 1983


Urbanizing areas thorughout the nation are considering governmental reorganization or consolidation to coordinate planning and improve the cost effectiveness of the delivery of public services. More efficient water supply and wastewater services may become important in the political debate over reorganization. However water factors figure politically, accomplished reorganizations must carefully plan for efficent provision of water services. This study profiles the structure and interactions of municipalities and water service agencies in Utah's Salt Lake County during the 1970s. Both 1975 and 1978 attempts to consolidate Salt Lake City and the unincorporated areas of the county failed. The voting patterns, interest ground positions, and issues are examined. One major water issue surfaced in a concern that service jurisdictions and financial obligations were not sufficiently defined to protect the communities previously bound through water service agreements but excluded from the consolidated government. Additionally, the proposed dissolution of the County Water Conservancy District raised doubts on the division of equity in water rights and distribution facilities. Any large water development stabilizes institutional arrangements to a degree which may become a financial and legal contrainst to desired change. Overall, nonwater issues dominated the decision in this water sensitive area. This implies that water service jurisdictional alignments are set by political decisions based on nonwater considerations. Water utilities must do their best to be effective in the resulting context.