Having friends in the rest of the world, I see that most everyone ourside the US
"gets" that water is a concern. It's not just lawns. It's
about whether people in the world and the US will be able to eat.Even though nearly half of all municiple water goes to landscaping, a recent
study* shows 93% of all fresh water goes to agriculture. That's plants we
eat, feed for animals we eat eat, and plant-based products.Xeriscaping and aquaponic landscaping could significantly reduce landscaping
water use - useful to the pocketbook and if done right, downright lucrative to
those who grab the leading edge of the art of making beautiful future
landscapes.There's a zeitgeist leading people to pay for
"green." Science and politics don't matter so much in the face of
such a trend. I say someone who stays stuck in the past for ideological reasons
deserves to "miss out" on the premium commanded by those who hone their
craft to meet perceived need.* Hoekstra, A.Y. and Mekonnen, M.M.
(2012) The water footprint of humanity, Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, 109(9): 3232–3237
While I commend the reporter for this series of articles, I was shocked to see
the idea of pumping water from the Mississippi being resurrected.The
idea of pumping water from the Mississippi River was proposed about a half
century ago. It was detailed in Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert (1986. I
am surprised the reporter did not mention this source. One of the many
problems with this idea is the number of dedicated power plants that would be
needed to pump the water uphill over nearly 1000 miles. At the time the plans
used Nuclear Power Plants. If you have an interest in water history in the
West, Cadillac Desert is the place to start.
The water spent having grass and trees is not wasted. Both are beautiful and I
believe both help cool down the hot summers.I've seen yards
with native Utah plants and they are also beautiful, perhaps even more
beautiful, but they don't do much to help make the summers any cooler.
The Yellowstone River emptys into the Missouri River, which then dumps into the
Missippi River. Can water be piped from the Yellowstone easier and cheaper than
waiting for the water to flow that far East?
I love the quality/choice/access of life that is available here in America.Is
this way of life sustainable or are the doomsayers going to get their way
(civilization is headed for a return to the ice age for the majority.)Future's big question: Who will have the choice/access to live -
shuttling at will between rural and city life with their all varying
amenities/access to modern civilization or caveman-like- existence? Frankly, I
like living in a modern world and don't want to go back to a future with a
3rd world cave existence for the majority. I reject the vision of the elite who
see modern life as only for the few because their economic/political system only
supports access/choice for their chosen. You know darn right that no matter
what happens, those that have the power and are the affirmative action
elite-chosen ones - they will have the quality, the choices and the access to
modern comforts.My answer: We the People must choose the principles
of Love (God and Thy Neighbor as Thy Self) to create the Future where there is
room and resources enough to spare for all.
"I would hate to see us get into the situation where water rates are so
expensive that only the people who have a lot of money can have grass and
trees,"This quote illustrates the tragedy of the commons. We
need to figure out who owns the water and let those owners (states) sell it at
market rates (after assuring that the ecosystem has what it needs, another
argument altogether). Maybe it doesn't make sense to farm here in the
desert. Maybe it doesn't make sense to have golf courses or lawns. I
don't know the answer, but I'm confident that the free market knows if
we would allow it to work.
Per Midwest Mom: “So in addition to piping Midwestern water, Mr. Gronberg
wants to create an immigrant pipeline to sustain his local economy?”I suggest a re-read of what I wrote. I only wrote an analysis of why I
think “the present dominant economic system” requires more people
and therefore more water. My analysis is probably half baked at best because
there are probably many other factors I did not think of and I only have 200
words. Nowhere did I endorse the half baked idea of moving Mississippi River
water uphill one vertical mile.As for the immigrant pipeline, that
is reality. I did not say it should be created, it is the real world now and
has been for a very long time. Money drives the immigrant pipeline. Our
government needs young taxpayers, other governments need to reduce their
underemployed populations, banks need to make loans, real estate salesmen need
young families to sell homes to, lumber producers and carpenters need customers,
etc. etc.Even IF I have the problem correctly analyzed, the cure may
be worse than the disease. Those who have all the answers are probably
"The financial interests in the West" have "invested" in a
desert. Protect it, yes, but it is a desert. If you don't want to live in
a desert, invest some place else. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints recently "invested" in 6,000 acres of Missouri. Pay attention.
"Waste not - Want NOT"We who live in an arid climate area do NOT
need England type landscaping.
"Whiskey is for drinking, Water is for Fighting" (Mark Twain) I'm
sure the Water Managers in Utah have read the recent Cal-Berkeley weather
forecasts extending out to mid-Century. It isn't pretty. The studies bottom
line is that should weather patterns hold, the Rain and Snow fall will not be
able to support the populations in the US West. Cities like Phoenix, Vegas, the
Wasatch Front will have chronic water shortages. The study concludes and says
Millions of people will have to relocate somewhere east of the Mississippi River
to be where the water is. IMHO, I think the study conclusion is wrong. Prehaps
bringing in some of the Mississippi water to the West is part of of menu of
solutions. Los Angeles is about 100 years ahead of Utah in the sense that L.A.
has three (or four) sources of water. I've heard natural runoff could only
support 200,000 Angelenos. Now with these three additional water sources 19
Million of us have water to live on. Finally, there is another axiom "Water
flows to money". The financial interests in the West need to start a
conversation on how to protect their investments.
So in addition to piping Midwestern water, Mr. Gronberg wants to create an
immigrant pipeline to sustain his local economy? Economies stagnate when
nothing new is created. Service-based economies are merely an exchanging of
wealth. The answers can't come from always looking to profit from someone
else. America is firmly entrenched in the pride cycle, where so-called "Job
Creators" are worshiped in the hopes that they will trickle down the crumbs
from their tables.
And when water is diverted from one river to another what is to prevent the
translocation of non-native and invasive species? There's a lot to
I think pipeline along the coast from the mouth of the Columbia River to
Southern California should be studied. It might even be placed in the ocean.
The Columbia River dumps more water in the ocean in a week than Nevada uses in a
year. Use that water in California so more Colorado River water can be diverted
to users further north in the Colorado Basin. That project may be technically
easier than the Mississippi pipeline referred to in this article. All options
should be looked at.
The real problem is a refusal to adjust to one's environment. Fancy yards
filled with rather useless grass are a relic from English manors. That's
right: Great Britain, known for its dreary (i.e., rainy) weather. I'll
even admit rather enjoying walking barefoot upon lush sod in my home state,
where green lawns don't need much water supplementation beyond what falls
from the sky.But I live in Utah now. It never ceases to amaze me
that people still want their yards to look like something out of Better Homes
and Gardens. And while I also like to golf, the amazingly green courses of
Mesquite are a stark contrast to the barren red hills surrounding them.Bottom line, maybe it is time to start charging for water what it is worth. I
can play on a golf course that is frugal with water management and smart with
which materials it uses. Anyone who wants to pretend we don't live in a
desert should be prepared to pay accordingly.
@georgeman: Really? Ouch. Most of that water isn't even reaching the
root systems before it evaporates, is it? To topic: Are there
stretches of the river that pass through areas where water evaporates, but the
evaporation doesn't benefit much locally? Would it be beneficial to
simply place structures that reduce the evaporation nearby by reflecting
sunlight that would otherwise reach the water, or even recapture the evaporated
water and store it or reintroduce it to the river? The structures
themselves could even be used for additional purposes, depending on the local
There are two forces that keep this “world” turning. They are
inertia and money. It is the latter that drives the need and want for more
water in the Southwestern United States. The present dominant economic system
absolutely must have an ever growing population. Just getting a stagnant
population to ever increase its needs and wants for more goods and services will
not by itself produce enough money. More young people, who want more goods and
services, are a very major force that will produce more money. Where can the
people with money and power get more young people. The answer is not getting
the majority American population to have more babies. Most households require
two paychecks to just sustain the wants and needs of a family of four. There is
no growth in population there. Only immigration will produce the young and
large families needed. Immigration brings more people and also stimulates
internal migration to the dry Southwest. Ever expanding cities and towns are an
absolute must to keep the real estate, lumber, hardware, furniture and
construction industry healthy and producing the money that is needed and wanted.
Follow the money.
Charge people the true cost of the water. Do not subsidize water for the west
via Federal price breaks (i.e. from the pockets of We The People). Mississippi
water would then be price-prohibitive.
Ironic that many don't believe in the science of climate change yet want to
reserve the right to grab the water that belongs to others in order to promote
their unsustainable lifestyles, just in case. You want the desert, you get the
desert. You want grass, go where it grows. Ridiculous to spend money sending
water to where it is not naturally occurring. Also great political spin to try
and promote siphoning off the Mississippi to "save" those of us who live
with it from flood waters. As though that pipeline would be turned off when
there are no floods. Right. The Colorado basin states have shown how well they
act as resource stewards. They're wrecking their economy, we graciously
decline the favor to join them in self destruction.
Conservation should be at the top of the list. I now live in St. George, Utah
and the residents here use way to much water. I would say 70-80% of my neighbors
water their lawn every day in the heat of the day. Nothing like throwing water
on your grass at 3pm in 100 degree weather. I say if St. George wants a
pipeline, make them earn it with conservation first, otherwise let them go dry
until they learn to use wisely.
Wouldn't sensible controls on runaway development help?
And yet some people think we need to increase the population...
Would diverting water that feeds the Great Salt Lake (such as Bear River) be a
good idea? I don't think so. The water from the lake effect of the GSL
provides the water for the Wasatch mountain watershed. We should try to grow
the lake if possible, then there would be more evaporation resulting in more
snow in the watershed. I think. Are there any scientists that can predict the
effect if the lake dried up or if it expanded?
I would favor government policies that reward conservation now rather than wait
until the need grows desperate.
Very interesting article; what I would really like to see is a map of the
possible canal system diverting Mississippi River water into the Navajo into the
San Juan into the Colorado River. A picture is worth a thousand words, and this
one would be useful. And ps, I agree with 3grandslams.
Before all these decisions are made, everyone needs real science on global
warming, get rid of the hocus pocus and false reports and flat out lies which
have been admitted by pro-global warming scientists and get some fact sactioned
by both sides of the scientific debate. Until that is done, there is not reason
to start making drastic decisons on partisan information.