By Barbara Bruno
I was surprised to read that the proposal to build a pipeline from Lake Powell to southern Utah is "not dead yet." As a part-time resident of Washington County (and owner of two separate properties there), you might think I'd be supportive of the project. Not so.
My husband and I live in Salt Lake County and visit our house in southern Utah approximately one weekend a month. Our culinary water bill for our tiny house there, which has no landscaping, is almost $60 per month. The annual total is more than we pay at our large, landscaped house in Salt Lake County, where we pay according to how much we use.
In Washington County there is no incentive to conserve water, and we clearly subsidize the other homeowners who have large, thirsty lawns and large, thirsty families.
To add insult to injury, we also pay several hundred dollars per year for pressurized irrigation water. The fee is based on line size (which is based on lot size), and the water is not metered. The only limitations are "time of day" restrictions in the hot summer months.
A few years ago, our next door neighbor in Washington County informed us that he was about to begin watering his large field. He explained that he pays for the water anyway, so he might as well use it. Since that time, we've watched him run his large sprinklers for 12 to 14 hours a day. He doesn't have a food crop, and he doesn't have animals.
Our pleas to him to turn off the loud sprinklers overnight have been met with self-righteousness about his right to water his field. He has rivers flowing through his field after watering, and there is often standing water. We've contacted the Washington County Water Conservancy District, and they've told us he's not in violation of any rules of the system.
It seems the "rules of the system" are part of the problem.
The chair of the Toquerville Secondary Water System, Darrin LeFevre, told us, in fact, to "please understand that pasture grass is managed differently than landscape turf and what may appear as overuse of water is necessary to produce a harvest. Soils also play a role in managing plant water needs."
A geologist from Sacramento who was visiting us last weekend said 30 minutes would saturate the field and be more than long enough to water the "crop."
Our neighbor is not an anomaly. His attitude is typical of many residents of Washington County who grow lawns and plants that belong in Florida and pretend they don't live in the desert. The watchdogs that should be protecting our water supply from people like him are useless and clueless.
Why should we subsidize a pipeline to water yards in Washington County?
Barbara Bruno is a Utah native, originally from Price, and has lived in Salt Lake City for all but seven years since 1972. She works as market manager for an office furniture manufacturer.