Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Token efforts.

Too little too late.

The April storms that left a couple of feet of snow and a few inches of water have extended the good skiing as well as the mud season but will do little to save the snow pack and water year.  These back door events favored the Back of the Wasatch Front and replenished, momentarily, the anemic south and low snow pack while enhancing the almost healthy upper level pack.  Don't forget  we had rain up to 10000 feet until mid December and we had some in March but April is trying to save the year's snow pack, or at least regress it to the mean.    We are too far gone to be saved by a token effort at this point.  Too little too late.

At best we will have a 75% snow pack with a 50% runoff.  For the second summer in a row and 8 out of the last 15 we will be high and dry but this year reservoir storage and stream flows will be low and slow.  Get used to it.

This could be the new norm, and I don't just mean statistically.    This could be the end of the world as you know it.  The climate is changing even faster than we thought and that original change rate was already unprecedented in historical times.  The change of the change is increasing due to scientific tipping points and the mathematical exponential character of nature.   The geometric natural log,  e to the 2.78, is the killer and the culprit because change like this is not intuitive or linear like we like to think.

So there will be less surface water, less recharge of already depleted ground water, less water in the rivers for fish and boats and less for our friends and neighbors.  Pipe dreams to Las Vegas, St George, Denver, the Snake and Missouri rivers will have to be rethought in light of the new water budget. More demand, less supply.  

Utah's Governor refuses to sign a proactive agreement with Nevada to send water south because he wants a new round of negotiations.  He would rather re-actively settle interstate water agreements and regional environmental degradation at the slow Supreme Court level rather than proactively in the present.  Leave it to the free market, private sector and the lawyers instead of objective governmental agencies and reliable interstate agreements.  Good luck with that.

Vegas will thumb their noses at us and build their pipe and fight it out in congress or court.  They have no choice.  They will vindictively protest our St George pipe but it will all be superfluous if the Million pipe goes in from Flaming Gorge to Denver because all the endangered fish will go belly up and the EPA will take over operation of the Colorado river again.

 If Denver wants the water let them take it from Lake Powell and let us use the water for fish, watermelons and nuke plants in Green River first.  If Vegas needs more water, let them take it from California's share of the Colorado River and  build a Nuke plant on the coast near the Desalination plant for LA.  California has that option, Vegas does not.  Start looking at the Snake, the Missouri and the Great Lakes for new water because they are not making any more of it out west and we are not using any less of it.  Let’s start proactively adjusting our uses, practices and priorities now, before we run out and before it is too late.  Conservation and wise use can put off a bleak future, but not indefinitely.   

We will need new curve linear ideas, better critical thinking and bigger plumbing to face the uncertain future.   A wet April will not save our butts this year and the status-quowater planning will not solve the future or address the increasing change in the change.  Its too little too late.  We are too far gone to be saved by a token effort.

Matt Lindon
Water Guy

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