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Utah's Environment 2015


Message from the Executive Director

Every day, the nearly 400 employees of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) work tirelessly to improve the lives of all Utahns. These dedicated public servants safeguard Utah’s air, land, and water to support human health, a vibrant economy, and our unsurpassed quality of life.

DEQ serves Utah residents in many ways:

The mother who mixes formula for her baby trusting that the water from the tap is safe.

The entrepreneur who locates in Utah because of its natural beauty and outdoor opportunities, knowing that air emissions have dropped by 35 percent over the last decade, and that we have a robust plan to continue to improve air quality as our population grows.

The community that sees an old industrial site—long dormant due to contamination—cleaned up and turned into a thriving commercial center.

The family that cools off during a long hike by swimming in a clear lake.

The homeowner who puts his trash out and knows it will be disposed safely and responsibly.

All these Utah residents—and many others—can thank DEQ.

Our work is increasingly challenging. The steady drip of federal regulations we must implement has become a torrent. The politics of the environment is often divisive. Demand for our services grows with our population. Environmental issues have become more technically complex and difficult to solve. Public budgets are tight. To fulfill our mission in the face of such challenges, we adhere to 10 guiding principles:

  1. Common sense and the law—not ideology—guide our actions.
  2. We seek continuous improvement, implementing innovations that advance quality, efficiency, and effectiveness so we can achieve our mission at the lowest cost to hard-working taxpayers.
  3. Utahns need economic opportunity as well as clean air, water, and land, and these goals are complementary.
  4. We base our decisions on sound science and the best information available.
  5. On matters of policy, we defer to elected officials chosen by the people.
  6. We serve the public. We listen to and understand the diverse perspectives of Utah residents.
  7. We work collaboratively with the regulated community, elected officials, other government agencies, and the public to achieve positive, practical, and balanced results.
  8. We are open and transparent and make information about Utah’s environment and our work accessible to the public.
  9. We maintain a long-term perspective. Our obligation runs to future Utahns as well as to those who live here today.
  10. Character matters. Who we are is as important as what we do. We act with uncompromising integrity.

I invite you to read the 2015 State of the Environment Report to learn more about what the people of DEQ do each day to make your life better. You will read examples of how we are implementing our guiding principles and overcoming daunting challenges. I am proud of our employees, who constantly seek better ways to protect Utah’s natural wonder and secure our economic future.

One of the defining characteristics of Utah is our stewardship ethic—a drive to leave the world better for those who follow. We at DEQ share that drive, and building on past success, pledge to continue our work to create a cleaner, healthier, more prosperous Utah.

Alan Matheson
Executive Director

Full Printable Version: 2015 (27MB)


Other Reports

Utah's past annual reports on the environment:


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