Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Idaho needs more water conservation

    As a Ketchum native, I was born with an appreciation for the outdoors. Water-oriented sports have defined my athletic pursuits including skiing, snowboarding and wake-boarding. Beyond impacting me recreationally, water has also shaped my studies at the College of Idaho, where I am focusing on biology and environmental studies.
    Recently I have been noticing more and more news articles related to water shortages and issues within the Wood River Valley and the state of Idaho. Quite frankly, Idaho’s water regulation is not satisfactory. Consider, for instance, the troubling issues surrounding Magic Reservoir, only a stone throw from Ketchum. As a child, I swam and fished in Magic all summer long. Now, in early July, the water is simply depleted, causing serious alarm for farmers and fish alike. Certainly less snowpack and annual rainfalls, coupled with higher overall temperatures, contribute to the current water issue. But, undoubtedly, state water policies also determine where and what water is available during the summer months. The biggest concern may be that the state of Idaho considers water in a river to be water wasted. This accounts for the fact that the majority of river water fuels economic endeavors, including agriculture. Nearly 90 percent of water is used for irrigation alone.
    And, while our state ranks 39th in population, we rank third in state water use (that’s not per capita water use but overall). In other words, we are not prioritizing using our water efficiently. While I strongly agree that without farms there would be no food, I also acknowledge that there is room for significant improvement with regards to Idaho’s most precious resource: water.
Tanya Greenwood

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