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New facility will improve DEQ science, data

Posted at 3:22 PM, May 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 17:22:53-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- This is like Christmas in late May for the scientists and those who work at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality — the folks whose job is to make sure the air we breathe and the water we drink is clean.

The department now has a brand new, $6 million facility right next door to their offices. Gov. Gary Herbert cut the ribbon Tuesday morning as it was unveiled.

"Good science helps us make better decisions, and this is a building that's going to help us get better data about our environment, help us use the limited resources we have as a state to do the most good to protect public health and the environment of Utah," said Alan Matheson, Executive Director of the DEQ.

This is a big deal for the scientists, and, ultimately, for everyone. It’s a place where they can do experiments, run tests and store all of their equipment in a clean, safe space.

From air monitors to boats, computers to lab equipment, it’s all now just a few feet away, a short walk across the parking lot.

For years, employees had to drive to a warehouse-type facility in West Valley City. That wasted time, and the equipment wasn’t always kept in pristine conditions.

After several years of lobbying legislators, DEQ officials said they finally got the cash for their new lab.

"We've needed it for quite a while — for years, in fact," said Bo Call of the DEQ's Division of Air Quality.

Call and others say the efficiency in terms of saving travel time, the ability to store sensitive gear and keep it operational longer, all benefit the state and ultimately will save taxpayers money in the end.

The new facility will enable them to really stay on top of Utah's challenging air quality and water quality issues as the state continues to grow.