Monday, September 29, 2014

Water, Our Most Precious Desert Resource

The rains have come and with it, the true beginning of Fall.  Even though Fall officially started this past week, today is the beginning for me.  Last week temperatures were in the high 80's and summer was still with us.  

Last Friday night I went to my son's football game and right as I got there, the clouds started rolling in!  People brought their umbrellas, having paid attention to the weather report that there is a huge system rolling in.  Sure enough, as the game got underway, so did the rain.  But it didn't last long and the rest of the game was played in relative dryness.

I got home at around 11:00 p.m.  Exhausted by my week, I collapsed into bed, ready to sleep for a good long time.  But in the middle of the night I was awakened by huge claps of thunder.  The lightning and thunder were spectacular! 

Today it has rained all day long and it seems like the state will be drenched!  But not so fast, this is the 2nd driest state in the Union.  And water usage is going up at an alarming rate.  Not only is the population increasing, but certain demographics are squandering the water we have, by not utilizing the natural desert landscape, and instead creating an artificial rainforest effect on their properties and watering like crazy.  
 Just how much do I mean by that?  Well, I called the city public utilities over a question about our water usage.  The lady and I got to talking and she revealed some very interesting tidbits about the various areas around the city.  I found out that my household's water usage is on the low scale of average, 30K gallons of water per week.  The average monthly water usage for my area is 30K - 80K gallons of water per week.  But there is another area just south and west of me that is totally different.  This happens to be the wealthiest real estate area in the whole state.  It comprises about 15 - 20 miles of prime real estate with property prices ranging from $850,00 to $5,000,000.  The woman at the Public Utilities Office revealed that the average water usage for this area is 200K - 300K gallons per week.  This is crazy to me!  What are these people thinking?  This is a desert, people!
 And of course, the local government has to make some changes, because the population will be increasing by another 2.5 million people in the next 35 years--and because of the current usage rate the population is projected to surpass the developed water supply by the late 2030's.

My initial concern that my household is using too much water was cut short by the astronomical usages by my neighbors to the southwest.  The decadent manner in which water is being squandered just to alter the natural vegetative state into something that isn't realistic is, to my mind, morally wrong!  

One might argue, "I pay my water bill, so I can use whatever water I want, even if it runs in the gutters, it's mine because I pay for it."  Well guess what, it's not your water, dude.  It's going to run out and then your private oasis will dry up like the rest of the state only you live with the fact that you and your fellow Neighborhood Watch friends sucked it up, only thinking about how much more lush your yard could be in comparison to your wealthy neighbor up the road.  Oh the foolishness of pride!

The state lawmakers are looking into changing how Utah deals with property taxes and water.  Apparently only Utah uses property taxes to lower the prices of water.  A study has recommended that property taxes should be reduced and instead make it a users' rate-based water fee.  

I personally think that property taxes should remain intact and that water taxes should be added on top of that.  I believe it would get people in those high-end neighborhoods to take a second look on how much water they use.  It could save everyone in the state a lot of grief in the long run.
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