Here in Utah, we live in a desert. And yet Utah has typically had one of the highest water usage rates in the nation. This is quite simply unsustainable. Please don’t misunderstand. Many people assume environmental advocates use the term to mean “unhip” or “tacky.” I mean nothing so trivial. I mean literally unsustainable. In a region experiencing a booming population, the water resources will not continue to be available to maintain current usage rates. Projects to import water will only get more expensive and more controversial as neighboring states in the Southwest fight to accommodate their own growing populations. The time is approaching when it will become an impossible drain on our resources.
As good stewards of the resources of this planet, we should proceed to manage our water in a manner which will best preserve the quality and availability of our resources both for our contemporary brothers and sisters, and for future generations.
In recognition of this, a number of state governmental agencies, NGOs, and businesses have sponsored this week (May 6-11) as Water Week. Brian McInerney, Hydrologist for the National Weather Service, and Stephanie Duer, Water Conservation Coordinator for Salt Lake City, were interviewed on KCPW to introduce Water Week and to explain the issues surrounding this most precious of natural resources and how it relates to our situation here in Utah. Our landscaping in particular plays a critical role in our water consumption, and learning about more responsible landscaping and gardening (such as xeriscaping) can make a big difference.
Want to learn more about water use in Utah and what we can do? Check out some of these.
- Utah Division of Water Services has some great suggestions and information.
- Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities: water conservation (its great to hear that Salt Lake City has made great strides in reducing water use!).
- The horticulture extension of Utah State University (my alma mater!) is a leader in the field within Utah.
- For those living in Davis County or thereabouts, USU has provided a fantastic option for those interested in learning about better conservation. They established the Utah Botanical Center in Kaysville (just down the street from my home during my teens, as a matter of fact) which provides workshops, classes, and examples—including a display house built on green design principles and landscaped with waterwise and drought-tolerant flora. Go visit, tour the house and grounds, take a class, and see how beautiful careful water stewardship can be!
- The Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District has information, classes, workshops, and a demonstration garden (Thanks Jennifer!)