Boy 2020 has been a Doozy
2020 could be called a "Doozy" of a year. We have had the world wide Pandemic
affecting every area of our lives. We have had wildfires. We have had a tumultuous
election season. And across the US there have been many hurricanes and tornadoes.
While 2020 has been a bleak year, I thought I would bring you some numbers of cheer.
In 2000, a group of Utah Leaders set out on a Quality Growth Strategy to help guide Utah for the next 20 years to 2020. This group was part of the Envision Utah team. I would like to list how Utah has done following their strategy from then to today.
Utah was projected to grow by 1 Million new residents. In fact Utah had a 1.6 Million
population in 1998 and today we have over 2.6 Million in population. But while that growth increase is pretty large, some interesting things have happened. Utah has added over 300,000 additional housing units of which single family homes comprise
67% today versus 71% in 1998. But also apartments comprised 25% then of the total and do the same today in 2020. 140 square miles though have been saved as agricultural space, saving over $4.5 Billion in infrastructure spending for roads, sewers, water and stormwater pipelines in the process. 260 square miles were projected to be developed, but only 126 square miles were developed for growth in Utah. In other words that is a 52% REDUCTION in projected developed land growth.
We used 319 gallons of water per person per day in 1998. It was projected that we would be using 298 gallons per person in 2020. But we are actually using only 225 gallons per person in 2020 or 30% less today even with an additional 1 Million more residents in our state. This is due to education, water metering, a smaller quantity of land developed per person, and there is less area to be watered per person. Again that is a 30% REDUCTION in water use per person per day over the last 20 years. In 1998 over 2,000 tons of air polluting emissions were produced per day along the 4 Wasatch front counties. Today in 2020 it was projected that we would emit 2,634 Tons per day, but in fact we now emit only 964 tons per day for a 64% REDUCTION.. Utah has now also reached full compliance with the EPA standards for air pollution for the first time, even before COVID 19 hit.
Since 1998 over 140 miles of mass transit rail has been built. It was projected to have over 45,000 people live within 1/2 mile of a transit station. In fact today the state has over 354,000 people living within 1/2 mile of a transit station. In 1998 daily transit ridership was at 54,000 people per day. It was projected that in 2020 that we would have 120,000 people riding transit rail per day; in fact the actual figure is at 145,000 people riding the transit rail per day.
The Quality Growth Strategy goes on into the future. Envision Utah worked with the State Legislature to instigate tax incentives for the gas refineries in Utah to start producing Tier 3 gas which they are now doing. This gas eliminates 70% of the sulfur from the current fuel we use. This will lower the pollutants in the air by 70% in the future as more and more vehicles use it. New building codes being put in place will lower the air emissions from buildings by 30% as well.
There are a lot of good things happening in Utah to make our environment better and our lives healthier for the future. I just thought it would be helpful to know that good things are happening in Utah. These truly are numbers to cheer about for the future in our wonderful state.