Thursday, March 4, 2004

The drive over the mountain yesterday was out of the ordinary. I haven't been up over that pass in the dead of winter for years, and I had forgotten how much snow can fall up there.

We live in a high desert valley. We receive around 13 inches of rain in a good year, much less during a drought.

The mountains we went over yesterday give our valley's life blood. The water that trickles down through the soil and rocks feeds our wells, and the runoff provides habitat for wildlife and fish and waters our farms and gardens. One can never know how much we will have for our needs, because the snowfall amount varies so much from year to year.

Another variable that doesn't get as much discussion is how fast the spring warms and how high the temperature gets. If it gets too warm too quickly, most of the runoff goes downstream to places like Delta and other communities on the Sevier river.

In the west, most of the water rights, or amount of acre-feet or cubic feet per second, were legally and not-so-legally wrangled many years before my grandfather was born. For example, Delta gets the full flow of the runoff from our local creek, Canal Creek, for a specified amount of time into the spring. That means that we couldn't catch much of the extra runoff of a quick spring even if we wanted to in our wee reservoirs.

At the same time, there exists an interesting little engineering marvel called the Spring City Tunnel. It runs water collected from the lee side of the mountains to our side, providing water for irrigation of farms, mostly growing feed for livestock and denying it to the people in Emory County, naturally downstream had the tunnel not been constructed.

Water is an interesting and sometimes convoluted issue in the west, well illustrated by my little community here in Northern Sanpete County. The battles go on even now with regard to water, and I will probably comment on a few more situations as time goes by.

Humans do crazy things to survive, and I freely admit that I'm human, to the quick.

At any rate, I reckon we'll survive. We're pretty apt at jerry-rigging things until we fix them, though.

Yeah, me too.

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