Utah DEQ News

Transparency in Government: DEQ’s Commitment to You

By DEQ Communications Office

“Government records belong to the citizens of the state, who have a legal right to open and fair access.” – Utah’s GRAMA and Open Government website

DEQ records officers

DEQ records officers. From left to right: Jenny Potter, Executive Director’s Office; Arlene Lovato, Waste Management and Radiation Control; Brenda Johnson, Water Quality; Linda Gould, Water Quality; Savannah Miller, Water Quality; Shaunna Heuser, Drinking Water. Not pictured: Shane Bekkemellom, Attorney General’s Office.

March 11-17, 2018 was Sunshine Week, a nationwide celebration of the benefits of open access to public information to citizens, communities, and government. Utah held its own celebration on March 13, 2018, at a conference hosted by the Utah Division of Archives and Records Service. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) takes transparency in government seriously by ensuring the public has access to agency records, its records officers are trained and certified, and information is readily available on its website. DEQ was well represented at the conference: Executive Assistant Jenny Potter sat on a six-member panel, and six records officers from DEQ either attended or listened online.

Why Transparency Matters

“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants” – Justice Louis Brandeis

Openness and transparency lead to greater governmental accountability, the free flow of information in the public interest, and a better-informed populace. Speakers at the Sunshine Week conference emphasized the importance of proper records management, the fundamental right of the public to access public records as defined by law, and the many benefits to society from this access, including better government decision-making, improved public understanding of this decision-making, increased governmental accountability, and increased public trust.

How the State of Utah Ensures Transparency

“Let the people know the facts, and the country will be safe.” –  President Abraham Lincoln

Utah’s commitment to transparency and openness dates back to the establishment of the Division of State Archives in the late 1960’s, but the state took a huge leap forward in 1991 when it passed the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA). The law:

  • Promotes the public’s right to easy and reasonable access to unrestricted public records.
  • Specifies the conditions under which the public interest in allowing restrictions on access to
    records may outweigh the public’s interest in access.
  • Provides guidelines for both disclosure and restrictions on access to government records.
    Most importantly, it favors public access and establishes fair and reasonable records management practices.
Panel discussion on GRAMA

Panel discussion on GRAMA

Other state laws ensure citizens have easy access to public records, including the following:

Every year, it gets easier to find, retrieve, and request government information. The Open Government website, for example, lets you:

  • Submit a GRAMA records request on the Open Records Portal. Search by city and town, county, state agency, K-12 education, transit district, special service district, local district, and interlocal governmental entities.
  • Check out how these same government entities spend taxpayer dollars on the Utah Public Finance Website.
  • View all financial disclosure reports and statements of organization for candidates, political action committees, political issues committees, corporations, electioneers, political parties, and labor organizations at disclosures.utah.gov.
  • Access a large collection of publicly available, reusable data sets at Utah Data.

How DEQ Ensures Transparency

“We act with integrity and make accurate and reliable information available to the public.” – DEQ Values Statement

DEQ certified records officer Jenny Potter

DEQ certified records officer Jenny Potter explains how DEQ ensures access to agency documents.

Utah’s environment is important to the health and well-being of all residents, and DEQ believes the public should be able to access environmental information quickly and easily. The agency usually responds to GRAMA requests within three to five days — well below the 10-day limit established under the law. GRAMA records officers at DEQ receive training and certification to ensure the proper handling of records and records requests. Sometimes a quick phone call or email from a member of agency staff can answer the question or point the requestor to the location of the information on the website.

DEQ also serves as a proactive source of information. For example, DEQ:

The agency also creates webpages on “hot topics” to provide background information, links to relevant documents and data, FAQ’s, and fact sheets — all to ensure that the public has the information it needs when it needs it.

DEQ scans its documents into an electronic records database known as eDocs. Many of these documents can be found through the department’s EZ Search or Interactive Map. From data on mercury in fish tissue to the location of brownfields to compliance records for hazardous waste facilities to air-quality source emissions — the public has access to a wealth of information, data sets, and agency actions from these two databases.

We’re always looking for ways to enhance our service to the public, including improved access to agency documents. Transparency isn’t just something we talk about at DEQ; it’s our way of doing business.

The fastest way to file a GRAMA request with DEQ is through the Open Records Portal. Select the “Request Records” button, fill out the online form (including a detailed description of the records you want), then click “Submit.” Most requests qualify for a fee waiver; generally, if the request would be costly and labor intensive, a records officer will contact you to help narrow down your request. To review your submission and track the progress of your request, click on Records Requests.

Legislative Session Helps Protect Air, Land and Water

Utah Capitol Rotunda

Each year, legislators gather at the State Capitol to address the lawmaking and appropriation needs of Utah.

Utah House of Rep

The last minutes of the 2018 Utah Legislature are always hectic.

By Scott Baird

The atmosphere at the State Capitol Thursday night was one of mixed emotions. Legislators (and those of us that work with them) were both elated and exhausted as they completed the annual 45-day session of the Utah State Legislature.

This year’s appropriations and legislation ensure that we can continue our ongoing work of safeguarding and improving Utah’s air, land and water through balanced regulation.

This session was a great success for the Department of Environmental Quality as we were appropriated every request included in the Governor’s budget. We have a lot of work ahead of us for the coming year, but for now, we’d like to thank all of you for your support and help as we prepared for and worked through a great legislative session. We could not have accomplished this without you!

Below is a quick roundup of our new appropriations and some of the bills passed on Capitol Hill:


The legislatures final budget provides funding for harmful algal bloom (HAB) response, air-quality research, and funding to help local health departments respond to the environmental needs of their communities. The legislature also approved operating budgets and several of the Governor’s priority funding requests.

Harmful Algal Bloom Response

One-time funding was provided to allow the Division of Water Quality to monitor lakes and ponds in Utah. This money establishes a fund that will allow us to respond to reported algal blooms and sample sites we know pose potential threats. This will help the division provide more timely data on affected waterbodies and help resolve HABs more quickly.

Air Quality Research

Research in to the chemistry and meteorology of air quality in Utah was funded with an ongoing $500,000 appropriation. This will be used to improve our understanding of air pollution and look for ways to improve emissions inventories. Ultimately, we are looking for the best ways to combat air pollution and protect the health ofUtah residents.

SIP Planning Consultant

Utah must provide nine separate State Implementation Plans (SIP) to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the next three years. A full-time position was funded to aid in crafting these plans to address federal regulations on air pollution.

Stack Testing Position

This new position will work in the compliance section to help test large industrial sources of emissions and anything with a new source performance standard under EPA regulations. The new hire will review pre-test protocols, audit stack tests and review post-test protocols to ensure they meet federal guidelines.

Technical Analysis Scientist Position

Recently, ammonia was identified as playing a larger role in air pollution. This new position will work to detect sources of ammonia emissions in Northern Utah and help identify balanced solutions to help reduce these emissions.

Local Health Department Funding

DEQ contracts with local health departments to better serve the environmental needs of communities throughout the state. The legislature approved $500,000 in ongoing funding to assist health departments in providing services.

Utah Senate Chambers

Legislation approved in 2018 will fund projects that protect Utah’s air, land and water.


Environmental bills and resolutions this session addressed a wide range of issues, including air quality, water quality and waste fees.

HB 76 Tire Recycling Amendments

Waste tires are becoming a growing problem in Utah and across the country. This bill increases the ability of the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control (WMRC) to reimburse costs associated with the transportation and recycling of waste tires.

HB 373 Waste Management Amendments

HB 373 changes protocols for landfill inspections and allows for self-inspection. The bill funds an electronic inspection system that WMRC and landfills can use to verify compliance.

Companies that choose to self-inspect will still be subject to state inspections every five years. Landfills not participating in the new program will be inspected every 3-5 years. Landfills caught falsifying their self-inspection will pay larger penalties for their violations and potentially lose the ability to self-inspect.

HB 101 Air Quality Emission Testing Amendments

This bipartisan bill sets up a three-year pilot program for emission testing on diesel vehicles in counties with emission testing programs. It is estimated that the change will eliminate over 17 tons of pollution per year. The last five model years are exempt from testing. At the end of the three-year pilot program, regulators will report on the effectiveness of emissions testing on diesel vehicles.

HB 38 Fireworks Restrictions

Fireworks are a popular way to celebrate Independence Day and Pioneer Day in Utah. Fireworks also dramatically increase air pollution, ignite wildfires and cause bodily injuries. This bill helps reduce these risks by limiting the number of days fireworks can legally be set off in Utah. The bill also provides additional tools to local governments to enforce firework restrictions.

HB 303 Drinking Water Source Sizing Requirements

This bill specifies the minimum sizing requirement for a public drinking water system. It defines public water systems water-use data reporting to the Division of Drinking Water. The changes affect things like tank size and the amount of water needed from the source.

The new law allows public waters systems to base storage on historical water usage.

So, now that we’ve had a weekend to rest and catch our breath, it’s time to begin anew our preparations for next year’s legislative session.  Please reach out to us and share your ideas, questions, or concerns, on how we can better serve our community, work towards our mission and ultimately achieve our vision of Clean air land and water for a healthy and prosperous Utah. 

Thank you!!!

Check out our bill tracking webpage for a look at the environmental legislation introduced during the 2018 legislative session. Visit the Utah Legislature website for a complete list of the bills that were passed, their effective date, and the Governor’s action (signed or not).

As the Deputy Director over Policy, Planning and Operational Improvement, I enjoy working with legislators, stakeholders and our employees in finding ways to improve how we do our work. Prior to joining DEQ, I worked in the Governor’s Offices in Utah and Washington and with Deloitte Consulting in D.C., where I helped state and federal agencies identify and implement opportunities to improve. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree at Brigham Young University and my Masters in Public Administration (MPA) and JD degrees from Syracuse University. I LOVE to get outdoors and enjoy SKIING, running, hiking, backpacking, camping, working in the yard, fixing up our broken-down house, and anything else I can convince my wife and four daughters to do with me…oh yeah, and I really like ice cream!

DEQ Values in Action: Exceptional Service

By Jared Mendenhall

Hazardous waste

In the mid-2000s, two entrepreneurial college students unknowingly purchased a large amount of hazardous waste.

The mess, pun intended, started in the mid-2000s. This is when two entrepreneurial college students bought a metal plating company in Northern Utah. Along with the company they unknowingly purchased a large amount of hazardous waste.

The problem came to their attention a few years later during a routine inspection from Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control (WMRC).

“In 2009, two inspectors from our division went up there and did an inspection,” explains Tom Ball, an environmental engineer with WMRC. “The inspectors found a number of areas where they were in violations of the Hazardous Waste Management Rules. Based on the number noncompliance violations that we found, we issued a Notice of Violation ordering them to come into compliance.”

By late 2010, it appeared that the company had come in to compliance. On the next visit, however, inspectors found many of the same conditions still existed.

The WMRC team regrouped in Salt Lake City to discuss a solution. The last Notice of Violation had only achieved a short period of compliance. Real human-health concerns still existed on the site.

Ball explains the jam theses regulators faced, “Issuing another Notice of Violation would just do the same thing. Issuing a monetary penalty would put them out of business.”

The engineers, scientists and staff at DEQ are public servants. Their mission is to safeguard Utah’s air, land and water through balanced regulation. They try to be fair. They look for sane solutions to complex issues.

The team wanted to give the company a real opportunity to remedy the situation without losing their business. Soon, a solution emerged. The team would devise a compliance-assistance and education plan.

First, the team would train the company in the Hazardous Waste Generator Regulations—rules that govern industries to ensure the protection of human health and the environment. Through this training, the company learned how to manage it’s waste and what chemicals were potentially hazardous.

“Based on the work we did with them, they were able to determine that of the 30 totes of waste at the facility, only 6 of them fell under the hazardous waste regulations and needed to be managed as hazardous waste,” says Ball.

Hazardous waste

Working with Utah DEQ, the owners were able to determine which totes contained hazardous waste and come up with a plan to clean it up.

This significantly reduced the size of the problem.

Next, the WMRC team set up a schedule of monthly compliance visits. This allowed regulators to stay on top of compliance efforts and address any new issues.

In the end, DEQ’s commitment to excellent service produced a win-win solution for the environment, the company and the community.

“What this means is that this company is not contaminating the environment. They are not polluting. They are not causing problems for their neighbors. They are properly managing their waste.” Ball explains. “And, they are also still a viable part of the economy in the area. They are still buying goods and selling goods and remaining a part of that economy.”

If your company needs help understanding hazardous waste regulations, visit the Waste Management and Radiation Control website. Here you will find guidance documents and links to regulations and rules. You will also find links to upcoming trainings. These trainings are available at no charge to generators.

I am a public information officer for DEQ and a former marketer and magazine editor. Follow me on Instagram @Jarv801.

Air Quality Board January Agenda

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018- 1:30 p.m.
Final Agenda
195 North 1950 West, Room 1015
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116

  1. Call-to-Order
  2. Date of the Next Air Quality Board Meeting: February 7, 2018
  3. Approval of the Minutes for December 6, 2017, Board Meeting.
  4. Final Adoption: Change in Proposed R307-150. Emission Inventories; R307-401. Permit: New and Modified Sources; R307-504. Oil and Gas Industry: Tank Truck Loading; R307-506. Oil and Gas Industry: Storage Vessel; R307-507. Oil and Gas Industry: Dehydrators; R307-508. Oil and Gas Industry: VOC Control Devices; R307-509. Oil and Gas Industry: Leak Detection and Repair Requirements; and R307-510. Oil and Gas Industry: Natural Gas Engine Requirements; and New Rule R307-505. Oil and Gas Industry: Registration Requirements. Presented by Thomas Gunter.
  5. Propose for Public Comment: Amend R307-101- 3. Version of Code of Federal Regulations Incorporated by Reference. Presented by Thomas Gunter.
  6. Propose for Public Comment: R307-210. Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources. Presented by Thomas Gunter.
  7. Propose for Public Comment: Amend R307-214. National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. Presented by Thomas Gunter.
  8. Informational Items.
    1. Ozone Designations Updated. Presented by Jay Baker.
    2. Air Toxics. Presented by Robert Ford.
    3. Compliance. Presented by Jay Morris and Harold Burge.
    4. Monitoring. Presented by Bo Call.
    5. Other Items to be Brought Before the Board.

In compliance with the American with Disabilities Act, individuals with special needs (including auxiliary communicative aids and services) should contact Larene Wyss, Office of Human Resources at (801) 536-4281, TDD (801) 536-4284 or by email at lwyss@utah.gov.

DEQ Employees Take Opportunity to Clear the Air

By Jared Mendenhall

Forty-eight percent of winter air pollution along the Wasatch Front comes from mobile sources. Mobile source pollution is the emissions produced by cars and trucks. Reducing these emissions, is one of the easiest things residents can do to improve air quality.

During February, the Salt Lake Chamber sponsors the Clear the Air Challenge. The goal of the Challenge is to help residents learn helpful tools to cut tailpipe emission. Competitors track online how many car trips they save by carpooling, telecommuting, chain tripping, walking and taking public transit.

Employees at the Department of Environmental Quality shared with us how they took part in this year’s Challenge and why they feel it is an important tool in helping Utahns clear the air.?

“The Clear the Air Challenge is easier than people think. It only takes a few minutes to participate. It also helps people try out other forms of transportation. Sometimes all it takes is that first trip to realize how easy it is not to drive.”

Jeff Studenka
Environmental Scientist

“I only live 7.5 miles from work. I like to ride my bike when it’s warmer. It saves money and I can get in some exercise.”

Kevin Okleberry
Environmental Scientist

DEQ Employees take public transit

Jeff Studenka [left] and Kevin Okleberry [right] take Trax with other Division of Water Quality employees during the annual Clear the Air Challenge.

“Carpooling is the only time in the day I get my husband all to myself. We work close together so it only makes sense to take one car. Plus, I hate to drive. So I let my husband deal with traffic and other drivers. I just go along for the ride.”

Jenny Potter
Executive Assistant

Jenny Potter carpools every morning with her husband. Why? She hates driving and likes clean air.

“The Clear the Air Challenge makes us consider our actions and the impact it has on air quality—particularly in the winter”

Mat Carlile
Environmental Planning

We know that cars are our biggest cause of air pollution. Efforts to try and reduce trips and cold starts are important in reducing those emissions.”

Glade Sowards
Environmental Scientist

Mat Carlile [left] and Glade Sowards [right] double dip for their Clear the Air Challenge by logging a carpool in an electric vehicle.

“Honestly, I don’t like scrapping ice off my windshield. It’s a lot easier just to walk to TRAX. I like to play video games when I’m on the train. That’s why I take public transit. Any chance we have to move cars off the road helps in so many ways—traffic congestion, air quality.”

Kristy Weber
DEQ Meteorologist

Kristy Weber and her Fiancé enjoy the ease of taking public transit.

“Riding public transit can be very relaxing. The first time or two is stressful, for sure. Once you figure out the route, though, it’s a great way to get around. I always bring a book.”

Rik Ombach
Environmental Scientist

Rik Ombach [right] and co-workers from Utah’s Division of Air Quality make a lunch run to downtown on the train.

“Technology allows us to take a more flexible approach to work. At DEQ we need someone covering certain responsibilities seven days a week. It just makes more sense to log on from home and do the work then to drive all the way into the office for just a few hours. ”

Kimberly Kreykes
DEQ Meteorologist

DEQ Meteorologist Kimberly Kreykes doesn’t bother driving in to work on the weekends to update the weather report. Telecommuting helps her save time and reduces emissions.

“I ride transit because it is cheaper than driving and because I believe that every little bit helps and we should all be taking steps to reduce our impact on our environment.”

Thomas Ball
Environmental Scientist

Tom Ball stays entertained while ridding Trax into work.

Learn more about wintertime air pollution in Utah here. Learn more about the Clear the Air Challenge here.

I am a public information officer for DEQ and a former marketer and magazine editor. Follow me on Instagram @Jarv801.

Air Quality, Your Health, and Transportation at Intermountain Healthcare

By Steve Bergstrom
Guest Blogger

Intermountain Healthcare’s fleet of vehicles

Intermountain Healthcare’s fleet of vehicles are needed to move our caregivers, equipment, supplies, pharmaceuticals, and specimens around the state.

Poor air quality affects everyone. It is especially hard on children, elderly and those with asthma, lung disease, cardiovascular disease and risk of stroke. Also, research is showing a strong connection between poor air quality and developmental issues with the fetus, increased respiratory infections, and neurologic conditions. One-third of Utah’s population is either 18 and younger or 65 and older; about 230,000 have asthma; and nearly 500,000 have cardiovascular disease.

Tailpipe emissions are a key contributor to our poor air quality. They present real health consequences for the groups I mentioned. The connection between health, transportation and business practices is becoming clearer every day. Being a health care company doesn’t give Intermountain Healthcare a pass.

Intermountain Healthcare’s mission is, Helping People Live the Healthiest Lives Possible. This mission compels us to be good environmental stewards as we perform our duties as caregivers. In our quest is to become a model health care system, we must ensure our operations and business practices are as efficient as possible. We work to cause the fewest negative impacts to our patients, caregivers and communities.

Intermountain has a large workforce of caregivers (all of our employees are called caregivers). These caregivers work in hospitals, clinics, Home Care, Courier and Distribution Services. We have locations across the state of Utah. Our fleet of vehicles and caregivers drive countless mile each day. We know those miles equal tailpipe emissions. The reality is that vehicle miles are needed to move our caregivers, equipment, supplies, pharmaceuticals, and specimens around our system and to our patients. We are committed to conducting our business in the most efficient and responsible manner possible. Here are some of the things we are doing, what we have planned, and how our transportation and transit programs are changing.


To be as efficient as possible, our fleet combines pick up as well as delivery of products and equipment, specimens, and linens.

  • All fleet vehicles are equipped with a monitoring device that records safety practices, vehicle idling, behaviors, and efficient routing. All drivers are reviewed and are accountable for the measurements recorded. Specific safety, idling and behavior guidelines as well as key performance indicators are in place.
  • A strategic goal is to convert 80 percent of our fleet to low-emission or alternative-fuel vehicles by 2025. We are currently at 13 percent. We are testing many alternative fuel models for capability to perform our needed tasks.
  • Constant review of routes and schedules are conducted to find efficiencies with deliveries.


Movement of our caregivers to and from their homes, and to work related destinations provides many challenges and opportunities.

  • Intermountain provides a discounted UTA program for caregivers. Ridership is at 8 percent of our total caregivers.
  • Intermountain offers Transit Passes that can be checked out by our caregivers who aren’t regular riders for meetings or travel to our other locations.
  • We have put together a program that allows some of our caregivers to work from home on a regular or as-needed basis. There are currently more 300 positions doing this. We are exploring how we might do more of this when the air quality index is high for pollutants. This is only available for those not involved in direct patient care.
  • Telehealth and related programs allow us to connect with our patients via a number of electronic and communication methods.
  • WebEx, Skype, and Tele-presence are highly encouraged for all meetings whenever possible. We are beginning to track the mileage impact of this effort.
  • We have Installed Electric Vehicle charging stations on our campuses. We have 12 chargers with plans for 12 more by the end of 2018.
  • Active transportation is encouraged for the health benefit and the emission reduction. Bicycle storage and showers are available at most of our campuses.
  • Van-share and carpooling are available at our large facilities.

We are constantly looking for ways to improve our transportation and transit issues. Some of the solutions require budgeting and planning while others are still being developed. A great way to improve is to join a network of other businesses and operations to share ideas, resources and solutions. DAQ has been presenting webinar workshops that allow us to share and learn about transportation and transit ideas and solutions. Click here learn more about these webinars.

Steve BergstromSteven has been with Intermountain Healthcare for over 33 years with experience in the Supply Chain, environmental preferred purchasing, vendor certification/relations, and inventory management. He was promoted to Director of Sustainability for Intermountain Healthcare in 2010. He has served on the board of Utah Recycling Alliance, Health Care Climate Council, a member of Practice Greenhealth, a member of the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce- Clean Air, Water, and Natural Resource Business Council, and has served on several energy and air quality committees for the State of Utah. He has recent presentations at Greenbuild 2016 International Expo and Conference, Healthcare Design Expo and Conference, Modern Healthcare Healthcare Transformation Summit, and Practice Greenhealth CleanMed 2017.