Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2018


Utahns are expressing a rapidly growing interest in protecting and enhancing instream flows for outdoor recreation and environmental benefits (Endter-Wada et al. 2015). However, many Utah rivers are already over-allocated for agricultural, municipal, hydropower and other water uses, making it difficult to procure additional water for instream flows. ‘Use it or lose it’ western water law and mentality encourages Utahns to use water rather than return it to rivers and ecosystems.

This briefing reviews existing instream flow practices allowed by the Utah water rights system and the challenges to implementation. We suggest key technical and legislative opportunities within and outside the existing system to promote instream flows.