The Thumb: Short takes
Down the tube • Officials in Iron County have opted out of the Lake Powell Pipeline, making the wise decision that conservation is a better answer. They are looking ahead to a day that all Utah communities will have to face. Mother Nature isn't making any more water, and neither the environment nor the economy is able to support a scheme to pipe it 200 miles from Lake Powell to Cedar City. Utahns can't continue to pour precious water on their lawns and ornamental plants. We also need to conserve agricultural water and divert the savings toward urban uses or toward recharging aquifers. Fortunately, many Utahns already are moving in that direction, both individually and collectively, through the policies of their water districts. Pumping 20,000 acre-feet of water uphill to Cedar City, then paying for Iron County's $400 million share of the pipe with impact fees from projected growth, is a leap of faith that cooler heads decided is not worth taking.
Plan for Wasatch canyons • And while we're on the topic of water, community leaders in Salt Lake County had better get on the stick if they are going to protect the Wasatch mountain watersheds from further encroaching development, especially by ski resorts. That's just one critical issue that must be addressed by a new canyons master plan. Community leaders announced the formation of a blue ribbon committee last week, after a proposal from Snowbird resort for a mountain coaster last year alerted them that their existing tools are out of date. The SkiLink proposal to run a gondola from the Canyons Resort on the Wasatch Back to Solitude in Big Cottonwood Canyon represents another threat. The county last addressed canyons planning in the 1980s. Writing a new plan will be a challenge, in terms of transportation, land use and watershed protection. But government clearly is behind the curve, and it needs to catch up.
Health insurance gets a check-up • It was good to read the other day that the Utah Department of Insurance is auditing the proposed rate hikes from two health insurance providers that are coming in at 14 to 19 percent. Such reviews of rate increases topping 10 percent are required by the federal Affordable Care Act, and they have the potential to call insurance providers out when they claim poverty while spending huge percentages of their revenue on overhead and executive pay rather than providing health care to their customers.