pine valley water heist

Getting all smart and testy, accusing Cedar City of trying to pull off a water grab is a comic and sporting means of bringing an issue to life, is my way of making it accessible, something a reader might be able to approach without going high dungeon and holier than thou.

Most of what I know about water comes from Maude Barlow. Blue Futures is one of her many books, a Canadian and activist, her work has elevated the issue of water access to being recognized by the United Nations as a fundamental human right.

Before the Central Iron County Water Conservancy punches more wells, builds a 70-mile water pipeline the water district should inform their community that 80% of the water is used by agriculture. Welcome to the public/private subsidy of our water. If the public pays and the farmers profit, then the community should know what they are getting for this generous subsidy.

Jarbidge River, Elko County

With a growing population and dryer climate the water districts are under stress. Water in this region is irrigated by pivot or water wheel. Alfalfa, hay, corn and silage are the main commodities produced. Much of this production is destined for regional dairy producers, and their product ends up exported for markets nationwide. Iron County is sending the water their citizens need out of the county and then out of state. “Farmers are using thousands of dollars of water to grow hundreds of dollars of hay,”

Long before the pipeline out to Pine Valley is built with precious tax dollars that most taxpayers are loath to surrender to the local accessors a whole lot of smart people need to sharpen their pencils and revise the regional agricultural system. Are there crops that might use less water? Can drip irrigation technology be used? How much dairy production will be needed between now and 2030? Isn’t it a fact that dairy beverage alternatives are growing while dairy’s market share is declining?

Pumping Pine Valley’s ancient aquifer creates more problems than the extra water destined for Iron County solves. California is confronting the same puzzle. The state has grown to 40-million people. Agriculture wants to continue receiving its full allotment while a swelling population continues to use more and more too. If you have never seen a tomato field in the Sacramento Valley flood irrigated before then you don’t understand how much water farmers are wasting.

Cotton growers in Yuma, Arizona need to be stopped. Alfalfa grown for export to international markets with Colorado River water in Imperial Valley needs to end. Department of Agriculture scientists need to identify regions in the United States best suited for each particular farm product and then incentivize farmers to shift operations to those locations.

Iron County’s short growing season is a challenge of its own kind. Growing food for local markets should be a priority where possible. Using water to grow a crop to feed and fatten an animal that ends up on our kitchen table is inefficiency writ large.

Most of the political nonsense that seems to pervade our present moment can be directly linked to citizens having detached their believing that they have any responsibility whatsoever to adapt and adjust their lives to the changing circumstances of our world. Yes, you bet it is inconvenient, that it will require sacrifice, that you are being asked to do something you’ve always done one way to now try doing another way. Get over the notion that everything is all fixed by complaining, griping and digging your heels in. Might be time we tried to cut the deck fair and square.

Great Basin National Park

I’ll bet there is a sizable part of Cedar City’s population that wants nothing to do with purchasing this pipeline. Sure, they don’t want to run their rural farmers and ranchers out of business but on the other hand maybe its time everyone put their heads together and see if there might be a win-win solution to accommodating Cedar City’s need for access to water for their growing population.

Pine Valley needn’t be ruined because local politicians can’t find the courage to spur change. There are kit fox, coyote, rattlesnake, red tail hawks, Big horn’s, elk and deer all depending on that water.  

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jennie madrigal
jennie madrigal
2 years ago

Thanks Dana. The past never ended, huh?

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Dana Smith
2 years ago

I’m thinking Chinatown by Polanski with Jack Nicholson… but yeah as I try to figure out how to do some comedy about this I wanted to put down the reality. We’ll be back in Denver 1-4–2021.