July 2014
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Water, water everywhere? That isn't the case

By Galen Larson

It puzzles me why more residents and irrigators are not more concerned about our future potable water supply. Without water, our Western Slope could be the 21st Century’s Owens Valley of Colorado.

We in Montezuma County and the Western Slope have very few resources to fight the water fight that is coming down the pike. We have fewer than 1 million residents out of more than 5 million in the state. Those on the Front Range need and want our meager water resources to further their growth.

I do not understand the laissez faire attitude being displayed by the people that this depletion of water will affect. If we are truly worried about what we are going to leave our children, a ghost town is one amenity they won’t be proud of.

Whether it be fact or fiction as to global warming affecting the weather across the nation, we know that frequent drought in the West is reality. Cortez, Mancos, Dolores and the rest of Montezuma County need water to thrive and prosper.

In the future, water will become a way to control the masses. Control the water and food and put no rein on population, and we leave our heirs to wonder not, “What were they thinking?” but, “Why weren’t they thinking?”

Why am I so concerned about water? I was raised in a household that needed to conserve water despite living in close proximity to a river, in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes. I pumped water from a hand-dug well. I hauled water from the river and pumped from a little red cistern pump from the basement cistern filled from rain off the roof, cleaning and sterilizing it every spring.

The only running water was the water we ran after. No septic system, just the twoholer some 60 yards from the house (not exactly ideal for reading the Sears Roebuck catalogue at 20 below).

The access to potable water is not determined by the amount available but the stability of the number of users. The ignorant and unwarranted use of natural resources can and will put an unnecessary and costly burden on us all.

To do a wrong through ignorance is forgivable; to do so with knowledge is criminal.

A hundred years or more ago, John Wesley Powell stated there is not enough water in the West to support much development, yet the government has spent more of the nation’s taxes on developing the West than any other portion of the country. We here in Montezuma County are closing in on a water crisis. Has anyone in charge done any research as to how much growth we can sustain? I have heard of none.

I realize that talk of limiting growth will elicit complaints of a closed-door policy from developers and people with no vision. They need to realize that to over-develop will hurt them and the community. Looking forward is cost-effective, repairing mistakes is expensive, and some are irreparable.

In speaking to water providers, one is assured that there will be plenty of water for drinking in the future, but limited supplies for agriculture. That leaves me with this thought: No water, no barley, no beer – oh, dear!

Galen Larson writes from Montezuma County, Colo.


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