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Old 04-13-2013, 09:53 AM
 
Location: East Millcreek
2,527 posts, read 6,178,134 times
Reputation: 2985

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Preamble:
I just returned to NY from Las Vegas after a rock climbing trip. Every time I go there I'm astounded by the crazy, out of control growth and obviously unsustainable use of water. Not a bit of the non-native vegetation could survive without irrigation, and virtually all of it is decorative. In 100 years LV will be a ghost town IMO - either mostly abandoned or without speck of green and no use of water except for sanitary uses. So it is in many (or most, or all?) of the arid cities in the west and southwest, though at least in Tuscon and Phoenix (and doubtless other places too) people seem to tolerate gravel lawns and cactus landscaping.

On an absolute scale SLC is also pretty arid and relies on snowmelt for water (right?). SLC also seems to be growing fast. And, notwithstanding Gov. Herbert's refusal to allow NV do tap UT's aquifers, the prevailing regional ethos doesn't strike me as being very conservation oriented. I've seen a few houses with naturalistic landscaping, but lawns and sprinkler systems seem to be the norm. The general orientation seems to be business growth, large families, sprawling developments, big cars etc etc. I'm hard pressed to see much evidence of the "sustainability theme" outside of Whole Foods. This contrast is especially glaring when going back and forth between UT and the northeast. The only obvious exception that stands out is the inversion controversy and even that doesn't seem to have generated meaningful policy changes.

So here's my question:
Can anybody comment on the SLC region's long term water outlook? What IS the sensitivity to snowfall? What would happen if there were 5 years of relative snow drought like winter of 2011/2012? The Wastach is finite. What's the limit? Does anybody know? And does anybody care? Local insights would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-13-2013, 12:42 PM
 
Location: East Millcreek
2,527 posts, read 6,178,134 times
Reputation: 2985
Default topic followup

I thought this link on the topic was interesting. In particular I was astounded by this:

>>Two-thirds of Utah's municipal water is applied to landscaping instead of in-home uses, a fact that accounts for the state more than doubling the per-capita water consumption seen in most of the East. And about 80 percent of Utah's total water supply goes to farms, which increasingly sell some of their water rights to municipal systems as homes displace fields.<<

To me this is saying that the norm in UT (a state with little water) is to use 2X as much water to emulate those places with more abundant water (lawns, gardens, etc etc).

Am I the only one that sees something wrong with this picture? [the question of why anybody is still farming in a desert is another topic entirely]
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Old 04-13-2013, 01:12 PM
 
Location: Downtown Salt Lake City
62 posts, read 188,942 times
Reputation: 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by kletter1mann View Post
I've seen a few houses with naturalistic landscaping, but lawns and sprinkler systems seem to be the norm. The general orientation seems to be business growth, large families, sprawling developments, big cars etc etc. I'm hard pressed to see much evidence of the "sustainability theme" outside of Whole Foods.
.
Gee, sounds just like the New York metropolitan area and Long Island to me!
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Old 04-13-2013, 01:50 PM
 
Location: East Millcreek
2,527 posts, read 6,178,134 times
Reputation: 2985
Quote:
Originally Posted by RockRat View Post
Gee, sounds just like the New York metropolitan area and Long Island to me!
Not exactly, smart guy. The difference is about 50 inches per year of rain. That's the POINT. So I guess you don't see any problem here?
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Old 04-13-2013, 03:29 PM
 
313 posts, read 873,155 times
Reputation: 229
My question is how much Wasatch snowmelt is currently being allowed to flow into the GSL and therefore be ruined? Part of me thinks that when it becomes critical, steps will be taken to capture it for potable usage. But, then again, that's just a guess on my part and I won't be around to see if it happens.
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Old 04-13-2013, 04:39 PM
mlb
 
Location: North Monterey County
4,772 posts, read 3,759,050 times
Reputation: 7579
It's not that simple.

Visit here: Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake and Sandy

And educate yourself.
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Old 04-13-2013, 07:57 PM
 
Location: East Millcreek
2,527 posts, read 6,178,134 times
Reputation: 2985
Quote:
Originally Posted by mlb View Post
It's not that simple.

Visit here: Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake and Sandy

And educate yourself.
I looked at this site before posting. Am I missing something?
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Old 04-13-2013, 08:55 PM
 
Location: Boydton, VA
3,644 posts, read 4,529,077 times
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"the question of why anybody is still farming in a desert is another topic entirely"....

Do you eat salad in the winter.....how about broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, celery, etc. ? Guess where 90% of the US grown lettuce comes from in the winter months......Yuma AZ, right smack in the desert. Over 200K acres in Yuma county is in Ag. production....everything from artichokes to watermelons. 8-9 cuttings of alfalfa a year....all grown with the help of water from the Colorado River...Alfalfa to feed the dairy industry....in the desert. Farming in the desert works...just add water.

Regards
Gemstone1
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Old 04-13-2013, 09:40 PM
 
Location: East Millcreek
2,527 posts, read 6,178,134 times
Reputation: 2985
Quote:
Originally Posted by gemstone1 View Post
"the question of why anybody is still farming in a desert is another topic entirely"....

Do you eat salad in the winter.....how about broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, celery, etc. ? >>>snip<<<
Fine, but the desert agriculture story isn't exactly a secret and, as I said, "the question of why anybody is still farming in a desert is another topic entirely"....

The question was peoples thoughts on municipal water use in the Wasach Front. I guess nobody has views they care to share? Or maybe no views at all? Perhaps because when you turn the tap the water has always come out?

FWIW, the town I live in has 100% wells and septic systems. There's no municipal anything. Same applies to all the surrounding towns and virtually everywhere in the northeast outside town centers. Water is "free" apart from the electricity to run the well pump, and that's not much. Regardless, this causes people to be very very aware of what they flush down the toilet, what chemicals and fertilizers they put on their lawn and how much water is wasted (unnecessary septic leach field saturation). There's also a movement against water softeners because the recharge cycle dumps salt into the septic system and it ends up in the groundwater.
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Old 04-13-2013, 10:39 PM
 
Location: Sinking in the Great Salt Lake
13,145 posts, read 21,042,260 times
Reputation: 14071
Utah is the 2nd driest state in the country but the Wasatch Front is far wetter than the large desert sunbelt cites like Las Vegas or Phoenix and in a totally different natural biome. I wouldn't call it a "desert" at all; it's a completely different environment than say, the Great Basin further West or the Colorado plateau (Red Rock country).

Someone who is used to the environment of New York might feel differently but that's probably because they haven't spent much time living in the desert. That's not to say we aren't at risk for droughts but compared to many places out West, Salt Lake is practically drowning in water.
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