Rep. Chris Stewart on drought and the need for improved infrastructure – St George News

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OPINION – Water is the elixir of life in the American West. Years of drought, uncomfortable for our generation, were disastrous for our pioneering ancestors. Thanks to the foresight of past generations to complete regional infrastructure projects, the average Utahner does not have to worry about energy or water supplies on a regular basis.

Utah Republican Congressman Chris Stewart speaks in St. George, Utah on August 26, 2020. Stewart is the author of a letter to the editor that was mailed to St. George News. | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

On a hot day, we swim in our reservoirs, turn on the air conditioning and pour ourselves a glass of cold tap water. Unfortunately, this is not a standard year or even a typical drought year.

Even if we may not be able to control nature, each of us plays an important role in conserving resources, adapting to the near future and planning for future generations. Utah is already the second driest state in the nation and is particularly acute this year. 90 percent of the state is now experiencing an “extreme drought”.

I have made it my business to speak to all parties affected by the drought. I’ve heard of some conservation groups who believe it is time to remove dams. I’ve also heard from other groups who think we should stop allowing growth in the West and that our resources have simply dried up.

Although I am open-minded about every possible solution, I believe that we can find less extreme options than foregoing infrastructure or growth. Our goal shouldn’t be to just survive this drought, but to come out with a better, more sustainable system on the other side.

In the immediate crisis, we can control how much water we use and how much we waste. Everyone must do their part to increase efficiency, both at home and at work. Water protection areas are a great source of ideas and innovation. In addition, there are discounts for homeowners who switch to smart controls and drip irrigation systems, plant water-saving trees or invest in certain waterwise devices.

The adoption of agricultural innovations is also part of this. For decades, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has worked with farmers and ranchers to incentivize and implement more efficient irrigation plans. We are fortunate to have these resources that have produced efficient means of watering plants. We have to use it properly.

Washington County Water Conservancy District, St. George, Utah, November 26, 2018 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

We not only have to address immediate needs, but also bring in our own innovations for the near future. For homeowners, the Utah Localscapes program teaches us how to turn our landscapes into beautiful gardens that work where we live.

In many areas, reducing forest fires will be critical to moving in the right direction. Burned areas cannot hold back and filter water. Melting snow and rain can be much more usable if we limit the burned areas. This focus will also promote agricultural efficiency.

These are important steps. But like our pioneering ancestors, we need to look even further ahead to meet the needs of future generations. We inherited novel infrastructure that has served us well for years, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement.

I think it is time to invest more in science. We need a more accurate measurement of the water currently available and a better understanding of how that water can be used most efficiently. Conservation requires a more precise application, and that means modernizing our supply infrastructure.

Utah will continue to grow. We must use our pioneering spirit and vision to care for future generations. Can you imagine western communities if we didn’t have the reservoirs of Lake Powell, Mead, and Flaming Gorge?

The development of new water sources will be expensive. At the macro level, we need to work together to innovate, plan, and fund new projects as we work with neighboring states to plan the future of the Colorado River.

But ultimately, our cheapest, most convenient option is to make better use of the water we already have. Water scarcity is a problem that affects us all. It’s no surprise that it will take all of us to create the healthy, sustainable communities we all want in Utah.

Submitted by REP. CHRIS STEWART, Utah Congressional District 2.

Letters to the editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, collaborators, or contributors. The matters mentioned and opinions expressed are the responsibility of the person presenting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are lightly edited only for technical style and formatting.

Letters to the editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, collaborators, or contributors. The matters mentioned and opinions expressed are the responsibility of the person presenting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are lightly edited only for technical style and formatting.

Letters to the editor are received from the public and are not the product of St. George News, its editors, associates, or contributors. The matters mentioned and opinions expressed are solely the responsibility of the person presenting them; they do not reflect the product or the opinion of St. George News. Letters to the editor, comments, and other news matters can be emailed to St. George News at: [email protected]

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