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🗣️ "Utah’s Cold-Shoulder to Conservation"


Photo by Taylor Brandon / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Travis Loop
Guest: Mark Olalde | Reporter | ProPublica
Category: 🗣️ Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:20] “The story […] set out to answer this question of in a time of climate change and […] large scale ratification, […] why is Utah somewhat of an outlier? Why is Utah not doing more? Why do we see all these news stories come out of Vegas for making every blade of grass kind of the public enemy? And yet, we're just not seeing that in Utah.”

[3:25] “Utah's got some of the highest water use, […] in part because it's got some of the lowest water rates. […] Obviously, a lot of Utah's water use is agricultural, just like anywhere in the West. […] But Utah's not doing great. […] It's 20 years into drought, just like much of the West and Southwest. The Great Salt Lake is at its lowest recorded point, […] which means water policy questions are leading to air pollution and things like that for more exposed toxic dust in that lake bed. […] there are a lot of downstream impacts of the high water use and low water conservation in Utah.”

[5:08] “Comparing Utah’s population centers to Las Vegas, Clark County in Nevada we found that that Vegas had removed about 200 million square feet of turf and spent about $258 million […] to do that removal. And now they're paying up to $3 a square foot to remove more grass. But you compare that to what's happening in the largest water district in Utah […], which is the central Utah Water Conservancy District, they just launched a program last year, at the time that I wrote the story a few months ago, they had only removed […] 15,400 square feet. So just pales in comparison. And [they]'re paying up to a little more than $1, so more than half less than what Vegas was willing to pay per square foot. […] Utah is years behind other states in terms of implementing water conservation policies.”

[6:53] “Typical […] [conservation measures] address turf removal, you implement low flow mandates on toilets, showers, sinks, things like that. […] A lot of cities, municipalities in Utah right now still have mandates that you have to have grass. So we're not even saying you can't have grass, we're saying you have to have grass. And so that's a fight that's going on currently.”

[13:53] “The […] the former governor of Utah actually […] a few years ago said, […] we're growing quickly, our economy is booming, our population is booming, water will not be the limiting factor. So you all need to figure that out and make sure we do not run out of water. […] Hence was born this group called Prep60, which stands for […] preparing for 2060 when the population is expected to double. And so they're saying how do we make sure that this request for water is heated. And they firmly believe that it cannot be achieved by conserving water alone, that it has to be achieved by unlocking [...] new water through [additional] projects.”

[18:14] “I think that the main loss here is that there's a lot of water that the state could have, if it wanted to conserve a little bit, if it wanted to spend money there. […] It's impossible to tell right now, whether conservation alone would really be enough to satiate Utah's growth. […] But I do know that there's just a ton of water that they're not saving like they could be […] and not really great reasons for why some of these conservation measures are are not are not approved and not pushed forward.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 29 min | 🗓️ 02/28/2022
✅ Time saved: 27 min

Additional Links:
Article: “Why the Second-Driest State Rejects Water Conservation” (Mark Olalde, 2021)