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Health, Science & Environment

Collaboration, Cooperation: Keys To The West's Water Woes

Judy Fahys
This year's Wallace Stegner Symposium focused on the West's water challenges. The boat in this 2014 photo is being removed from the Great Salt Lake because the marina is too shallow.

Water experts say it’s time for new thinking on the West’s old attitudes about water, as climate change and population growth drive the discussion about the West’s water future.

Las Vegas water sage Pat Mulroy said that means westerners need to radically rethink their approach. She said smarter collaboration and conservation would be a good start.

“Everything has a water footprint,” she said, speaking at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law during last week’s Wallace Stegner Symposium. “The challenge is how low can that footprint go.”

Author John Fleck said there’s misconception that the West is running out of water. He talked about strategies that are already working well in the West.

“We have to understand that story of success rather than remaining steeped in the tragedy narrative, because we can’t succeed unless we know how success is done,” he said.

Around 300 people attended the symposium. It was taking place just as a California congressman proposed legislation in Washington to get the federal government building dams again in western states.

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