Appoint task forces to solve drought problems

Nature doesn’t always bring water to where we need it. But we’re smart enough to deal with it.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake County is starting draining the Sugar House Park pond early due to the drought and to keep wild birds from getting sick, as seen on Monday, July 19, 2021.

By Don Gale | Special on The Tribune

Where is the task force? Where are the task forces? The governor should set up a task force. Mayors should appoint task forces. The Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations should set up task forces.

All with the sole aim of finding new sources of water and sketching plans to develop these sources, no matter how difficult the task may seem.

Today’s drought is not a typical cyclical drought. It is a long-term condition caused by climate changes mainly caused by human atmospheric disturbances. In fact, 2021 could be the wettest, coolest year for the next three or four decades. Drought conditions are corrected. But it will take decades, not years. In the meantime, those who live in arid areas need to help nature adapt.

That is the task of the task forces – to identify new water sources and to develop plans for the collection, storage and redistribution of the water. We have been doing this in western America for 200 years – we have captured, stored, and redistributed water to help nature conserve plant and animal life. Visionaries have created reservoirs all over the area – Mountain Dell, Flaming Gorge, Lake Powell, Strawberry, Jordanelle, and hundreds of others. Few were easy to plan and complete. Unfortunately, over the past few decades we have become short-sighted and complacent and have failed to anticipate the long-term drought.

These task forces should be small – six or eight people – so that they have a chance to get things done. They should include both thinkers and leaders. Good ideas are useless until they are turned into action.

Don’t hire conservationists. Conservation is important, but we cannot save ourselves from the long-term drought. In addition, a modern, civilized society needs bathing and boating, gardens and golf courses, sprinklers and swimming pools – all of these could be eliminated by water saving proposals.

The world has a lot of water. The planet’s water supply is basically static. Nature stores water in seas, lakes, rivers, ice and snow (nature’s cooling pond). When nature chooses to move water, moisture evaporates into clouds, moves along wind currents, and returns to earth in the form of rain or snow.

But forces of nature do not always store water where the soil, plants and animals can best use it. Laws of nature are seldom driven by situational needs. Fortunately, however you define it, nature has created animal species with the ability to think ahead, plan and compensate for disruptive natural phenomena. Humans have learned to imitate nature by capturing, storing and redistributing water and other earthly “gifts”.

The evaporation of sea water into clouds purifies the water and removes salt. But Great Salt Lake doesn’t need evaporated water. We could import seawater directly so that the lake can continue to play its vital role in climate stability in northern Utah. Importing seawater for the Great Salt Lake would unlock local freshwater sources to feed plants and animals, including humans.

Task forces should consider such a possibility. (It’s cheaper than sending billionaires into space for three minutes of pointless adventurism.) Desalination of seawater may also be expensive, but it is common practice in many parts of the world and on hundreds of ocean-going ships. We found money to destroy the planet’s climate cycles; We can find money to make up for the disturbances.

Years ago, former Senator Frank Moss commissioned a study on the import of water from northern sources. Task forces should search this publication to see what we can learn from it. Excess water could also be available from rivers and lakes in the Midwest. These possibilities should be checked by one or more task forces.

Redistributing water is expensive. But drying up areas in the western United States is infinitely more expensive.

Don Gale is a longtime Utah journalist who has written on countless successful endeavors to solve seemingly unsolvable problems.

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