Utah public water suppliers trying to plan for future decades struggle with the arid state's always-uncertain future for precipitation, but they may soon have a tool that gives them more time to sort through the complicated realm of water rights.

Draft legislation by Rep. Patrick Painter, R-Nephi, aims to give the state engineer authority to grant extensions on the time it takes to consider water-rights applications from suppliers such as Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District or Central Utah Project. The extra time may be needed to prove that the suppliers will actually use the amount of water, or rights, that they are claiming in their applications that they will use.

Conditions for a time extension, as stated in Painter's legislation, include whether the supplier has either constructed infrastructure to apply the water to beneficial use or if the supplier has made "substantial expenditures" to complete the infrastructure.

Painter's measure passed unanimously this week out of the Legislature's Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee.

He said the legislation is not a response to any one problem and instead is intended to avoid any problems as time limits on some current applications to appropriate water rights are nearing their deadlines.