Drained | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Drained 

Pay attention to Lake Powell. Here's the less-talked-about problem with population growth. And, the state gives a lesson in bad civics.

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Drained
Maybe you don't think that Lake Powell drying up is much to cheer about. It's not, but at least someone's paying attention. The Salt Lake Tribune's front-page story on the water woes we face was probably too much for most readers to process. Water politics and policies are, after all, dense, convoluted and mind-numbing. Brian Maffly valiantly tried to explain why Lake Powell exists and who gets what—the Upper Basin (Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah) and the Lower Basin (Arizona, Nevada and California). And, yeah, that lower bunch is taking a lot of water. Let's face it, no one is interested in conservation despite drought and population growth. Thus, the Lake Powell pipeline and all the controversy surrounding it arises. Our water future is in crisis mode, but we know how Americans look at crises—we don't believe them until they kill us.

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Unsustainable Growth
Speaking of population, here's a crisis we can get behind—but only if we don't have to face the cause. No, it's not all the "illegal aliens" flooding across the border. It's largely births and in-migration. The problem, of course, is how to handle our growing population. High density housing appears to be the solution, but as Justin Swain of Utah for Responsible Growth implies in a Trib op-ed, we're ignoring developers' greed and ascent when legislators manipulate the laws for their behalf. Affordability gets lost in the mix because it is often a function of government, and you know how Utah hates government mandates. Still, there are groups like the Utah Population and Environment Council that support population control to temper the unsustainable more-people-more-jobs-more-growth scenario.

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Bad Civics
Yes, isn't it cute that middle school students are studying the Legislature, learning the machinations without any of the real brain cramps? Because those sweet children asked, Rep. Lowry Snow, R-St. George, is sponsoring legislation to designate the Gila monster as Utah's state reptile. "Student-backed designations of state symbols have become something of a tradition during the annual legislative session, with varying results," the Trib wrote. Kids didn't get the golden retriever to be Utah's state dog, for instance. But they just might get a state reptile. Apparently, this is what we call civics education in Utah. In what was real civics ed, high school students a few years ago worked to thwart Sen. Margaret Dayton's attempt to end the International Baccalaureate program. If they want to do something meaningful now, they should try getting rid of the state rock—coal.

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