cedar city water grabbers

In the grip of a water grabber

Cedar City Utah’s, Central Iron County Water Conservancy District Pine Valley Water Supply and Conservation Project is worth our thinking about before we go out and cause all kinds of irreversible natural world hell. Southern Utah is one of the fastest growing regions of the United States and I mean horizontal suburban sprawling housing projects that are being thrown up just as fast as a hammer swinging beer drinking football fan can manage. Water is a vital, scarce, hard to come by necessity out here, every squirrel, rattlesnake and icemaking machine from the Mexican border to the Boise, Idaho needs more water.

To be on a planning commission, supervisory board, or to become mayor means you have got to talk fast and find answers to impossible problems. You can’t win without support, and you can’t win support promising to shutdown businesses, slow down growth, and throw your voters out of work. Until now there has been enough water for Cedar City to get into the mess they are in today.

Backwaters of Baker, Nevada

Iron County Water Conservancy is doing its dead level best, but push has come to shove. Seventy miles northwest is located Pine Valley. I been through this region, land is owned by the Federal Government. A proposal to pump groundwater from Pine Valley back to Cedar City is under consideration. That’s all you need to know is that otherwise good civil servants in cahoots with real estate developers want to go from Iron County up to Beaver County and grab the water from a pristine untouched immaculately conceived ancient aquifer. I’m am nothing if not objective, fair and balanced and through and through unbiased.

Let’s wrap our heads around other solutions. Before we begin you should understand taking another track could come back to bite or sting a politician right in the butt end of the ballot box. Best we understand reality before casting about for solutions.

I haven’t crunched the numbers but by aerial photographic investigation it is plain as day that there are a few thousand farms that are going to need to surrender their rights back to Cedar City for the common good.

Water Rights Reassigned

Rescinding a farmer’s water rights is like coming home drunk, lipstick on your collar, a night out two-stepping at the local honky tonk, knowing full well that there are no undiscovered artesian gushers or marriages that can’t end in divorce.

First thing we might want to try is just conserving what water we use now. That rankles contemporary Americans, “I ain’t sacrificing one single inch of my entitled ass for you and that stink eye you are trying to water shame me with.”

Mayor Mobile

That’s one vote losing suggestion right there. Second, every means of water conservation is going to be required to be fully exhausted to slowdown the flow of water from every home and business in or near Cedar City. Low flow showerheads, low volume toilets, drought tolerant landscaping, condemning golf courses, and installing recycled water commercial carwash facilities. That all sounds like some kind of nightmare liberal utopian gateway to socialism. I know, I know, but time has come.

Mule, Jeep or on horseback

Baker, Nevada is a town of 56 good souls. Men and women from this community sit at the foot of Wheeler Peak home to the Great Basin National Park. Not that you are supposed to know or even understand how underground aquifers can all be interconnected, but now that you do know you might just be wondering if Cedar City pumping water out of Pine Valley might potentially cause harm just ever so slightly west to the aquifer beneath Snake Valley? Look at that, just like that, those Cedar City water grabbers have put at risk all that is right and mighty in White Pine County, Nevada.

Wheeler Peak, Nevada 13,065 Above Sea Level

Water grabbing is a big, tangled mess, makes Los Angeles freeway gridlock seem like an almost solvable problem compared to this venomous pit of Great Basin water moccasins. Men, real estate developers and ranch hands are wanton creatures and know more about a 12-gauge shotgun than they do about modern-day birth control.

Drought has the Southwest by the neck. Our swelling population, all the booming communities have arrived just in time for a climate emergency civilization changing reckoning. Business friendly politicians are about to leap into rhetorical obfuscation and pretzel misshaped solutions even the dirtiest devils will regard as even harder to scrub off than a tattoo.

Downtown Baker on a busy day

Timidity will buy time, but it won’t get you what you don’t have. Crystalline materials, powders called metal organic frameworks, can now harvest water vapor from the air. This device comes from Yaghi Laboratory at UC Berkeley. This new solar-powered device can pull water straight from the desert air, and enough water each day to supply each and every happy home in Cedar City.

Lithium mines, geothermal electrical generating stations, Gigfactories, and for the love of God and all of creation you mean to tell me that there is a thing called a solar powered residential water maker in our future? I know it’s hard, but this is where our struggle to coexist with the finite resources found on earth have brought us to. So, dear Cedar City water grabbers, deal with it.


eastern edge of nevada

Spring Valley Wind Farm

As batty as this may seem the Spring Valley Wind Farm had to install radar to help prevent unnecessary bat collisions with their turbine blades. Mexican freetail bats it is said can haul ass attaining speeds of 100 mph while flying horizontal to the ground. The nearby Rose Guano Cave hosts the migratory mammals as they travel north and south. During the season, each night an estimated 70,000 bats depart to devour 300 million winged insects before returning at dawn to their bat cave.

Spring Valley’s wind farm consists of 66 wind machines each standing 400’ tall generating enough electricity to power 150,000 homes. With all of 10,500 people living in White Pine County most of this electricity is fed into the electrical grid and sent to more populated western communities.


The Southern Nevada Water Authority arrived in White Pine County in the early 1990’s with a plan to pump 58 billion gallons of water a year from ancient underground aquifers south to Las Vegas. Rural Nevadan’s don’t take too kindly to have their water basins sucked dry in broad daylight by a bunch of casino operators. Litigated over the last 3 decades the Great Basin Water Network (fancy name for a spunky group of locals) fought the Water Authority and won. The project was declared to be “dead in the water,” and with that the no-good miserable water grabbers moved on.

Irrigation Pivot on Hayfield

Hay growers farm the remote corners of the valley. Many operators use irrigation pivots. Growers produce hay, alfalfa, winter and spring wheat. Work of this kind is best done by men of few words. I’ve met a handful over the years, they tolerate my curiosity, answering my questions, but they’re more accustomed to silence, preferring to work the land, ship their crop to market, spend the winter wrenching on their trucks, tractors and field equipment.

Between Baker and Border, Nevada there are three saloons. Fanciest is Kerouac’s staffed by urban refugees that can no longer stomach a cosmopolitan life but are as yet unprepared to hire on to herd sheep. With the pandemic in full rage hard times have fallen on the saloons. Baker is the gateway to the Great Basin National Park. Wheeler Peak is the parks crowning achievement, second highest peak in Nevada at just over 13,000’.

White Pine County is where is located the Nevada State Penitentiary’s death row. Eighty-two have been convicted and remain locked up with no possibility of being executed because of the moratorium. Rumor is that most suffer near death from boredom at this remote prison.

From Baker, Nevada it is 300 miles south to Las Vegas, 382 miles west to Reno, and 230 seldom if ever driven miles northeast to Salt Lake City. Nevadan’s don’t frequent Utah much if at all. On the odd chance business requires such a visit is one thing but visiting for purely social purposes the Utah capital is much too morally rigid for Great Basin whiskey drinkers.

Bristlecone Pines from High Country

A long-haul trucker brought the love of his life out here. Driving through headed east or west he finally bought a slice heaven on earth and when not on the road parked his rig and hung his hat with his better half. Then cancer came took his life leaving her to fend alone. Twice she tried to return to the San Francisco Bay Area. Both times it was no use. Freeways were too clogged, fancy people everywhere, so noisy she couldn’t even hear herself think. Once every two weeks she drives 60 miles on Hwy 50 to Ely for groceries. Then, about maybe twice a year one of those quiet type bachelor hay growing pivot operators will make a run at her, try and convince her to hug and kiss and you know what.

This is how life along the easternmost edge of Nevada goes along day after day. If there is a snowstorm, they close two of three saloons. Bartender from Baker voluntarily drives his customers the ten miles over to Border so that unnecessary sobriety may be avoided. Locals will drink, eat and spend the idle hours of the evening discussing hay crop yields and the incessant western drought. Saloon keeper loads up his customers drives the ten miles atop the icy roads and falling snow back to Baker sending his clientele home where they will be warm to get some sleep and dream of better days. This is how it is and always will be.