Monday, September 24, 2007

Water rights issues... stop the abuse

Living here in the Escalante Desert Valley, we're always concerned about water, and "water rights". For the record, we officially have 1 acre-foot of water for our use. That means we can use up to 325851.428571 gallons of water per year.

When I do the math, it figures out this way. Each day we can use up to 892.745 gallons of water. For the four of us and all our animals... that seems like a lot of water.

Don't get me wrong, we're not the least bit interested in giving up any of our water rights. In fact, we'd like to purchase one additional acre-foot, but at a minimum asking price of over $5,000, it's not likely to happen in the near future.

Now, I've done a little investigating (anyone can do this with access to the right links), and personally believe someone needs to really think through the formulas.

For example here are the basic allowances for different kinds of livestock.

cow or horse 0.028 acre-foot
sheep, goat, swine, moose, or elk 0.0056 acre-foot
ostrich or emu 0.0036 acre-foot
llama 0.0022 acre-foot
deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, or mt. goat 0.0014 acre-foot
chicken, turkey, chukar, sagehen, or pheasant 0.00084 acre-foot
mink or fox (caged) 0.00005 acre-foot

When I calculate this on a daily basis, it tells me that our horses are expected to consume an average of 25 gallons per day, per horse. Our sheep are expected to consume just shy of 5 gallons per day per sheep. Our chickens are exptected to consume 3 quarts per chicken per day.

Folks, that's a lot of water per animal, and since we control our water through the use of measured containers, these figures are excessive.

For domestic use, we're allowed a full 100 gallons per person as there are four of us in the family and we get 401 gallons per day. Again, the allowance is very generous.

Now, here's the problem.

The State of Utah believes the water table in this valley is being depleted by overuse, and they are setting about changing how things are done... and that includes the distinct possibility that "water rights" which have been purchased could be disallowed. And that would be done without compensation.

We're going to a valley-wide meeting tonight where we will learn a whole lot more about what's happening. There are some huge farmers in this valley who have the rights to 1000's of acre-feet of water who are most unhappy. They've formed a "Conservation District" and are laying plans to fight any action by the state.

This could get interesting. I'll be blogging more about this over the next two days leading up to a world wide "blog-a-thon" sponsored by Bloggers Unitie, entitled "Stop the Abuse".


Posted by Shari Thomas @ 1:21 PM

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