As a fourth-generation farmer and rancher in Utah, I understand that water is essential to maintaining our way of life. Although I gained this understanding through unique, personal experiences in rural Utah, this is also the case in cities like Salt Lake, Provo and St. George.
Utahns value locally sourced products, especially when it comes to food. Our local products are directly linked to our state’s water use. For instance, in Utah, the alfalfa we grow is directly used to feed cattle that then produce our state’s dairy and beef products. Without water, we would not be able to continue providing these goods close to our homes.
As chair of the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee for the Utah Senate, I hear about water from every angle imaginable. Not just from those in agriculture, but from developers and municipalities to name a few.
We need to take a balanced approach to all water use in Utah. This means that we can’t alienate each other. Water solutions needed for agriculture, our rural and urban communities and the shrinking Great Salt Lake should be considered holistically.
With that in mind, here are a few guiding principles when it comes to water conservation:
Industry, government leaders and residents should be as responsible as possible with water.
While Utahns have made significant strides to conserve water, we need to continue to make industry and personal consumption decisions as we move forward. We must create a culture that teaches and values water as a precious resource, including finding ways to landscape with less water, changing to “low flow” faucets and increasing efficiency in agriculture irrigation.
Finding water solutions shouldn’t stop economic growth or the responsible utilization of natural resources.
All prosperous economies become prosperous by utilizing the natural resources available, including water, agriculture and energy. Being responsible stewards is vital to preserving and promoting growth. Our natural resources are our legacy and our future.
We have to think about everyone when it comes to water.
The Great Salt Lake water levels affect tourism and industry. Water use in agriculture directly impacts the food on our table. We can’t solve these problems in a box, and we can’t blame one industry for our lack of water.
I’m confident that we can achieve the balance we need when it comes to water with realistic planning and good communication. We don’t have all the answers, but we can find solutions. When it comes to solving problems, cooperation needs to happen quickly and often without laying blame on each other.
Let’s work together and ensure Utah continues to thrive long into the future.
Scott Sandall was elected to the Utah Senate in 2018. Prior to that, he served for four years in the Utah House. He is a Box Elder County native and is the owner and operator of Sandall Ranches, a fourth-generation farm and ranch in Promontory, Utah.