Drought 2021-2022

Ah yes, farm subsidies. I don’t see them going away, just paying for different crops. Kale! Arugula!

(My very favorite line from the 2008 election was when candidate Obama said in Iowa, “Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula? I mean, they’re charging a lot of money for this stuff.”)

But as you noted earlier in this conversation, in some places in Utah and also here in Oregon, families depend on traditional ways of making a living, farming, virtually oblivious to what is happening around the world. Okay, I guess I get it. But hey, at some point, you have to be better informed. Only that is elitist thinking.

Remember the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, who railed against collectivism – as farmers used to be particularly in the late 19th century – in The Road to Serfdom, publishing in the US in 1944. You know, just as the USG under Roosevelt, a Democrat, mobilized an astonishing amount of economic resources, like historic levels to win WWII. Cliff Notes – Hayek: “Planning leads to dictatorship.” The purpose of government is to secure individual rights, and little else. Period.

I’m not suggesting this mind you, but perhaps its high time for the USG to get out of the farming business. BTW, some of the most successful farmers I know around Bend, grow stuff like arugula. You don’t have to farm a commodity crop such as alfalfa or wheat or corn using designer seed you can’t hold over to next season by contract with the seed producer to be a successful farmer.


You’ve reminded me of one thing I actually know about alfalfa. It’s perennial. Once the field is planted, if you take care of it it stays planted. At least that’s what I understand. So it’s relatively inexpensive to grow.


Sorry, I was aware of that…my bad. So, yeah, I get it.

To the larger point, as you have made today, how we always did things may under the growing threat of less water may need to be examined. My fear is that once the government gets involved, even if right minded, another backlash issue is created. How can we avoid that?

Friend of mine’s husband is the head groundskeeper for one of the local Salt Lake courses. Was talking with her about this report, and she said she’d really like to see updated numbers from the past 3-4 years (that USGS report is from 2015). They have apparently taken some very significant steps to decrease their water usage, at least on that course.

For whatever that’s worth…

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Wingpoint doesn’t count. :stuck_out_tongue:

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This is weird. I went to the Fox13 article today and the Public Supply and Golf Courses numbers have switched.

Edit: I think Max Roth may have messed up when making the chart initially. Additionally, there appears to be a more detailed version at Water Consumption

The link in the article to the 2015 USGS water report is now invalid as well.

Something’s stinky here…

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WIngpoint has stuff growing on it like crazy, even without the watering. Definitely more drought tolerant plants than before. I ride my bike through there a couple times a month. It’s like a jungle!

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I had an interesting discussion about the drought and farming with my brother who lives in Sanpete County. His in-laws grow a lot of alfalfa there and have done for years. He helps on the farm fairly regularly and understands their operation pretty well. One of the factors is that the altitude and soil in the area produces some of the best alfalfa in the world which brings in top dollar. In this year with the drought the crops will be poor but with the shortage of feed they are still able to sell what they produce for a really good price. It’s hard to argue against the almighty dollar even in a drought. I expect that the only way farmers will move away from alfalfa is if there is no water anymore to grow it.


As someone who used to take care of golf courses, they monitor water usage a lot. They cut the water outside of playable areas, use different types of heads etc.

There are also benefits to golf courses, temperature regulation, water filtration, sound deadening etc.

The big thing Utah has been terrible at is not allowing watering with effluent water.

Different Counties…different solutions. Salt Lake County, where a significant amount of farmland has been developed into other uses, the irrigation water that was servicing these lands is basically going nowhere. As water is not really a fungible thing, repurposing ag water to outdoor irrigation does have merit. The problem is it will take decades to create and install the necessary infrastructure to make it happen.

We need to rethink water before we exite the area the way the Anasazi did from the four corners area several thousand years ago.

Forgive my ignorance please, I know very little about water…

However, there are several places on my normal rotation of cycling routes where there is water running into storm drains constantly, 24/7/365. Two of these are immediately adjacent to Lindsey Gardens.

My guess is that there are a very large number of low volume streams, springs, and unused former irrigation canals with water flowing into specially built storm drains around the valley, to handle what was never seen as a large enough volume of water in which to invest.

I get what you’re saying about time and cost to develop infrastructure, but a lot of that water has been going into those storm drains, I suspect, since these areas were first developed decades ago. Given the relative increase in scarcity/value of water in the intervening years, I would think a cost effective means of using the water locally would be possible, No?

The two examples near Lindsey Gardens, would be great for use at Lindsey’s or the City Cemetery, and there is space to construct a holding facility at both places.

I also realize that the volume of water would not solve any large problems, but reclaiming it would avoid what is now a complete waste.

Salt Lake City, like Magna, has a storm drain system that doubles with moving irrigation water in some parts of it. In some parts of the city, some folks are likely watering their yards by throwing a weir break in the running gutter in front of their house and watering their yard “old school.” There are a number of streets in Magna that water this way. The problem is it really doesn’t work very well. It may get some water on the yard, but it also floods the street and causes water damage that requires more repairs.

Normal folks who don’t have to manage and maintain infrastructure would never know this. It’s not ignorance to not know about it, it’s being normal. Only City Mangers and public administration nerds get that far into the weeds.

There are lots of pipes that drain into the Jordan River that I see going south from 5300 S that run with significant flow all the time. There’s also what appears to be an spring in Murray right next to the river trail about 5600 S that bubbles up quite a bit of water, 10 to 15 gpm maybe, 24/7. It too just runs into the river. These have always puzzled me.

There is a small ditch like this that runs 2 blocks from my house. Our friends recently buried their section of the ditch but retain their water share if they want to use it. The previous owners used to flood irrigate the front lawn from the ditch.

I’m interested in the Great Salt Lake angle.

Many streams in Davis County are used for culinary water. Pipes originate up in the canyon, like in Salt Lake’s Millcreek canyon, drawing down what’s coming out of the canyon the excess eventually flows into the Great Salt Lake.

I drove by Bountiful’s biggest stream yesterday - Mueller Park / Millcreek - and a mile into the city it was bone dry, so curious, I drove up to the Mueller Park trailhead, and just below that I would say it was about 2 gallons a second, definitely not enough to sustain fish. I fished this creek as a kid, in what’s now Bountiful City.

Here’s an interesting site on water flow in Utah’s streams & rivers. The numbers for Bear River are pretty stark. USGS Current Conditions for Utah_ Streamflow

By the time the Bear River gets to Corrine - west of Brigham City, almost to the GSL - yesterday was 25 cubic feet per second, the mean average is 495 ft3. That’s a lot of agricultural water drawn, around Tremonton, into Cache Valley.

If you want to buy a sailboat cheap, now is the right time, I would say. The GSL marina is closed. Unless we have a biblical winter, I don’t think it will be open next year, either.


Allowing water to drain into the GSL is not a waste. It won’t make anyone’s lawn greener, but it helps avoid arsenic laced dust storms.


Of course you’re right. I think I started my post by admitting I know nothing about water - I’m trying to catch up a little here :slight_smile:

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Also, that lake effect is what makes for “the greatest snow on earth”