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Utah Clean Water, Initiative 1 (2004)

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The Utah Clean Water Initiative, also known as "Initiative 1," was on the November 2, 2004 statewide ballot in Utah as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated.[1]

Election results

Utah Initiative 1 (2004)
Defeatedd No469,55454.87%
Yes 386,237 45.13%

Election Results via: The Utah Lieutenant Governor


The Utah Nature Conservancy sponsored the initiative. Had it passed, it would have cost the average Utah family about $14/year. Supporters of the initiative spent about $1.5 million on their campaign, while initiative opponents spent less than $50,000; a forty-to-one margin.

Text of measure

The language on the ballot said:

"Shall a law be enacted to: (1) authorize the state to borrow up to $150 million by issuing bonds to be repaid within 13 years from a statewide sales tax increase of 1/20th of one cent and, only if necessary, from general state sales tax revenues; and (2) use bond proceeds for projects that, among other things: (a) preserve or enhance lakes, rivers, and streams, wildlife habitat, farms and ranches, trails, historical sites, parks, open space, and water and air quality; facilitate growth management; and build park, wildlife, or trail facilities; and (b) build local community facilities and improve natural history and cultural museums?

Signature collection for the petition

To place the initiative on the November ballot, the Nature Conservancy was required to gather the signatures of at least 10 percent of all registered voters in 26 of the state's 29 counties. Utah enacted the 26-county requirement in 2003. To meet the statewide signature requirement, the Nature Conservancy employed paid petitioners, paying $3 for every signature they could gather. In all, the Conservancy spent nearly $300,000 on signature bounties and other expenses.

At the July 6 deadline to submit the necessary signatures, the Nature Conservancy had met its quota in only 24 of the state's 29 counties. State elections chief Amy Naccarato declared the signatures insufficient, and the Nature Conservancy went to court.

Bumpy election night coverage

Initial polls had shown the public supporting the initiative by roughly 70 to 30 percent. On election night, exit polls indicated 54 percent approval. As soon as the polls closed, the state's largest TV station, which had given the initiative favorable coverage and had received a large amount of advertising from initiative supporters, announced Initiative 1 had passed by a comfortable margin. When all the votes were tallied, however, it turned out that voters in 27 of Utah's 29 counties had rejected it.

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