Governor Cox speaks on drought and GSL

In response to criticism of Utah’s water conservation efforts, Governor Cox admitted “I think we got a little lackadaisical.” It was frustrating for many to read his comments reported in the Tribune on how “tough” it has been to get 3 million residents on board with shifting the paradigm when it comes to water usage, when in reality, residents and activist groups have been calling on local governments to change the playbook for years. The legislature’s “develop at all costs” mindset and practices landed us in this situation, as did their prioritization of the fossil fuel industry over environmental and human health. 

While it is encouraging to hear government officials express understanding of the seriousness of the issue, they still seem unwilling to make changes where they matter most, such as agriculture. When asked about agriculture’s role in water usage, Governor Cox gave an answer that didn’t inspire much hope for change on that front. “One of the things we learned during this pandemic is that we need to be able to grow some of our own food here in this state,” Cox said. “It’s really important, as supply chains broke down, to make sure that we’re doing that.” Rather than taking practical steps in reducing production of water high crops such as alfalfa, the legislature is assessing “quick-fix” fallacies like piping ocean water in to save the Great Salt Lake. 

A 2015 report showed that 82% of water in Utah goes to agriculture. Photo by arbyreed on Flickr.

His answer to the Tribune regarding climate change’s role was also less than encouraging. “Most people have no idea,” he said, “that in 1963, it was almost as low as it is right now.”

“Climate patterns change,” Cox continued. “And right now, we’re in a dry climate pattern that could shift over time. We don’t know. We’re hopeful, but we have to do everything possible to save that lake right now.” As stated in the above article, research shows that 42% of the megadrought we are facing is due to human caused climate change. We need our government to understand that impact and make the necessary changes where the fossil fuel industry is concerned. 

Read more about what conservation efforts are taking place.