Where will we get the water for all of Utah’s growth?

Dr. Moench had an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune this week highlighting a crucial concern at the core of growth in Utah – water. While the Utah Inland Port touts bringing growth and development for not just Salt Lake but Utah as a whole, it definitely brings up the question, where will we get water to support all of this growth? 

The op-ed highlights another ports’ struggle for water and how it could cost residents. “Joliet’s sea of warehouses, distribution centers and rail lines, exactly what our port cheerleaders fantasize for Utah, are draining their water resources. Last year, just five warehouse owners, with only 2% of the warehouses in Will County, used 20.5 million gallons of water. The situation is so dire that Joliet’s mayor is proposing a billion-dollar, 31-mile-long pipeline, siphoning water from Lake Michigan. Water bills in Joliet will skyrocket.”

In Utah, the cost of losing water reaches far beyond financial. We are already experiencing increased dust from dry lake beds across the state. Heavy metals and arsenic have been detected in the exposed lake bed of the Great Salt Lake that will inevitably contribute to dust storms, adding to pollution and deteriorating our air quality. 

Part of the Inland Port’s plan hinges on satellite ports across the state. Aside from bringing increased vehicle pollution and traffic to these areas, accessing water for the satellite ports could have far-reaching and irreversible consequences. 

“This scheme could drop groundwater more than 5 feet in an area of the Great Basin covering 10,500 square miles, could eventually drop the level of the Great Salt Lake further, and expose more dry lake beds” Dr.Moench writes of Cedar City’s water plans for a satellite port. 

“The Wasatch Front now has 10-15 significant dust storms a year. Fifteen years ago, we hardly had any. Like other pollution, the dust itself is a serious health hazard, but it is also loaded with neurotoxic heavy metals like mercury and arsenic.

Read the full op ed here.

Read more about Joliet’s water crisis.

Dr. Moench speaking at a rally against the Utah Inland Port. Photo by Jonny Vasic.