Frequently Asked Questions


How is iUTAH funded?

 

iUTAH is funded through a 5-year, $20 million cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF) under NSF's Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). EPSCoR funds are designated for U.S. states and territories ("jurisdictions") that have traditionally received a smaller share of federal research dollars, and are intended to help those jurisdictions build the research capacity, both human and physical, that is needed to become more competitive for future funding opportunities.

 

In the case of Utah, the iUTAH award has already seen major returns within the state on this initial investment of federal tax dollars: iUTAH researchers have secured almost $30 million in additional research funds since the project's inception in 2012. In part due to this, Utah has since "graduated" from the EPSCoR program, i.e., we became ineligible for additional EPSCoR funds in 2014.

 

See the iUTAH award abstract for additional information.

 

Does iUTAH engage in advocacy?

 

iUTAH is not an advocacy group. We do not advocate for specific policies, rules and regulations, or behaviors. As a federally funded research project, it is our goal to provide scientifically sound and societally relevant information on Utah's water resources. We hope that by doing so, others--whether decision makers in water policy, managers of water resources, or individual or corporate consumers of water--will be placed in a position to make informed decisions about Utah's water resources, with the ultimate goal being a sustainable future for all of Utah's water users and uses.

 

To whom is iUTAH accountable for achieving its mandated goals and objectives?

 

iUTAH's mission, broad goals, and specific objectives are formalized in a Strategic Plan. We use this strategic plan to regularly chart our progress in meeting so-called project milestones, which are specific actions, accomplishments, outcomes, or outputs, to which we have committed ourselves.

 

In addition to frequent self-evaluation, iUTAH is also evaluated and assessed externally, using a multi-pronged approach: (1) Annual meetings with and reports to an External Advisory Board, resulting in a written report that is shared with our leadership and management teams; (2) bi-annual evaluation by the American Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS) Research Competitiveness Program, resulting in a written report that is shared with our leadership and management teams; (3) annual evaluation of all program elements by an external evaluator, Jacque Ewing-Taylor, of STEM Evaluation Associates, resulting in a written report that is included with our year-end report to our funding agency, the National Science Foundation (NSF); (4) bi-annual so-called "reverse site visits" to NSF to present our progress and accomplishments to an independent panel of experts, resulting in a written report that requires a response by iUTAH; and (5) annual year-end reporting to NSF to demonstrate sufficient progress on our project milestones upon which continued funding is contingent.

 

All of these documents are publicly available on our website: iUTAH Documents

 

There are no real water shortages in Utah, and water is comparatively inexpensive. Doesn't this mean that this problem is overblown?

 

It is true that Utah is fortunate to not have experienced the kinds of water shortages we are seeing, for example, in California. At the same time, and maybe because of that, per capita water use in Utah is among the highest in the nation. Water is also inexpensive, with the per gallon cost of water among the lowest in the nation.

 

iUTAH is interested in securing Utah's water future for generations to come. Utah is already a dry state, and with our population expected to double by 2050, we are likely to see increasing pressure placed on this limited resource. At the same time, our supply of water--which depends heavily on snowfall--is expected to decrease as climatic variability shifts precipitation in the state from snow to rain. Finally, the increasing urbanization of Utah and associated pollution, is expected to negatively impact water quality. In concert, these factors are sufficient to place the sustainability of Utah's water resources at risk.

 

Air pollution, particularly in winter, seems to be getting worse every year. Isn't that a more pressing problem than our water supply? What is iUTAH doing about air pollution?

 

iUTAH's ecohydrologic observatory, GAMUT, measures aquatic, terrestrial, and atmospheric variables. Many iUTAH participants have expertise in atmospheric sciences, and are already looking at issues of air quality, particularly with respect to the connections between air and water quality. For example, dust deposits on mountain snowpack and their associated heavy metals have an important influence on the water quality of spring runoff. The lasting research infrastructure that iUTAH has built with the help of this award will leave the state of Utah well-positioned to address environmental issues at the confluence of air and water quality far beyond the life of the iUTAH award.

 

I think the work iUTAH is doing is very interesting. How can I become involved?

 

iUTAH's wide range of programs offers a multitude of opportunities for direct involvement. Whether you are a student, teacher, public official, fellow researcher, or member of the general public, iUTAH has programs, either on its own or through one of its many partners, that are geared towards you! For more information, please visit the "iUTAH & You" page and select the appropriate audience.

 

Can I visit iUTAH?

 

Because our network of researchers, education and outreach professionals, students, and stakeholders is spread across the entire state of Utah (and beyond), there really is no one central location to visit. iUTAH does maintain an administrative office on Utah State University's Innovation Campus in Logan, Utah. In addition, depending on which aspect of iUTAH you are interested in, you can search for and directly contact our participants.