Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
📺 WATCH LIVE: Salt Lake City mayoral debate @ 6p

Conservation: The Word of the Week for Water

Downstream states may have dodged emergency water deliveries from Lake Mead, but the business group Protect the Flows says its time to double down on conservation now.

Federal water officials decided this week that there’s enough water in Lake Mead to keep up with deliveries in Arizona, Nevada and California next year. That cheered downstream users of the Colorado River, who have been anxiously awaiting word on whether the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation might begin emergency cuts in the water Lake Mead provides Arizona and Nevada.

It turns out the lake is a few feet higher than a mandatory cutoff level. But a likely shortfall in the future has a regional business group calling for action.

“The bad news is that we barely missed it, and we still remain dangerously close to automatic cuts, “ says Nicole Gonzales Patterson, Arizona state chair of Protect the Flows, a network of eleven-hundred businesses, and it’s calling for more innovation and conservation to support a healthy Colorado River system.

Credit Protect the Flows
Protect the Flows

  “And the studies show a high probability of shortages in 2018 and beyond.”

The Colorado supports more than more than 35 million people and $1.7 trillion in economic activity – about $70 billion in Utah. Gonzales Patterson says using water wisely is essential – especially for businesses.

“Conservation is our cheapest -- our low-hanging fruit. And I think that, absolutely, we should be talking more about that. There’s always more we can do.”

The call for conservation comes just as the Utah Division of Water Resources steps up its “H2OathGames.” Four winning cities will receive a $5,000 grant based on the number of residents who pledge to conserve water. The contest continues through September 15.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.