James I. Farr Presidential Endowed Professor of Law
S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Parsons Behle & Latimer, Salt Lake City, UT
National Audubon Society, Salt Lake City, UT
The Great Salt Lake and Its Wetlands—Protecting a Challenged Resource
The Great Salt Lake is the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere. Its ecosystem supports a huge array of species, including more than 7 million migratory birds, and the lake and its wetlands generate more than $1.32 billion annually from recreational, industrial, and other activities. Nevertheless, the lake and its wetlands face potential destruction as a result of water diversions, climate change, drought, and changes in salinity. This presentation will provide background and an overview of water-related challenges facing the Great Salt Lake and its wetlands. The panel will take a deep dive into the lake’s declining water supply, exploring climate impacts, hydrology, water demand, and water law and policy. The panel will explore various ways these issues are being, or might be, addressed, including the implications of Utah’s evolving public trust doctrine, application of prior appropriation to the lake and its tributaries, and other new or existing policy or management approaches.
University of Colorado Law School, Boulder, CO
Drought Contingency Planning in the Upper Colorado Basin
In the spring of 2019, the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, and representatives from all seven Colorado River Basin states executed drought contingency plans (DCPs) for the Upper and Lower Colorado River basins to address ongoing low flows and overuse in the system. This presentation will provide an overview of the DCPs focusing particularly on the Upper Basin plans, and explore the reach of the solutions the parties have crafted for dealing with drought and the gaps remaining. Opportunities and challenges for the next set of operating guidelines for the river will also be explored. The session will complement the Colorado River panel at the first Annual RMMLF Water Law Conference that will be held in November 2020 in San Diego, which will discuss a broad assortment of contemporary issues for the Colorado River overall.
Marten Law LLP, Seattle, WA
America Confronts PFAS Contamination
Per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been manufactured and used around the globe, including in the U.S., since the 1940s. PFAS is a key component in well-known products such as Teflon, Gore-Tex, and ScotchGuard. Various industries, including the oil and gas industry, use chemicals linked to PFAS, including aqueous film forming foam fire suppressant spray, hydraulic oils, and surfactants. PFAS are being detected in community water supplies and there is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects. PFAS regulation is emerging at both the state and federal level, including congressional appropriations to establish maximum contaminant levels for PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act and to designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under CERCLA. This presentation will provide background on PFAS and where these chemicals might appear and contaminate water in industry operations. The speaker will then discuss efforts to regulate PFAS and evaluate the main proposals under discussion.