Letter: An irresponsible decision on water

Tribune photo by Brian Maffly, Sept. 4, 2018 Sam Plumb inspects the dry creek bed on his family’s property in Emigration Canyon. The creek through much of the canyon has been completely dewatered for the past two months, a sign of Utah’s worsening drought and possibly excessive groundwater pumping to feed hundreds of homes in the canyon east of Salt Lake City.

On Oct. 18, Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency, upon the advice of the state drought advisory panel, because of extreme drought conditions throughout the state of Utah.

On Jan. 16, 90 days later, the Department of Natural Resources Division of Water Rights, led by Executive Director Kent Jones, approved the application of the Emigration Improvement District to drill five new 20-inch diameter wells for ground water extraction.

Think about the reality of that, this almost nine-foot diameter hole in the ground spewing water. The irony is this water is not needed for the EID’s current customers. Evidently, Jones did not receive the governor’s memo that we are in an unprecedented and serious long-term drought.

The logical conclusion is that the EID sees dollar signs for future, unwise and disastrous canyon development. This decision borders on complete irresponsibility, as it would put current residents, wildlife, vegetation, forests, stream, riparian lands and historically significant landmarks at high danger.

The biggest danger would be that the drawdown of the aquifers would create a condition known as hydrological drought (depletion of groundwater), which would create extreme wildfire conditions similar to what has been happening in California the last few years.

The governor has the authority to overturn this potential disastrous decision. I would encourage all affected parties (Save Our Canyons, the LDS Church, Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, Salt Lake County Unified Fire Agency, Utah Historical Society, Clean Air Action Team at Envision Utah, Rocky Mountain Power and all Salt Lake alley residents) to contact the governor on his public email and voice their concerns.

If this unwise groundwater mining is allowed to become a reality, the responsible parties may have a hard time washing the blood from their hands.

Steve Andersen, Salt Lake City

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