Three million people live in Utah today and our population is almost certain to double in just a few decades. We already find ourselves in a challenging new era for water, one that endangers hopeful plans for Utah’s future. Will there be enough water to meet demands?
In the southwestern part of the state, that question is playing out in real time. The challenges, decisions and opportunities are close at hand.
Filled with the belief that they were doing God's work, Utah’s pioneers solved their water problems by rolling up their sleeves. Their grit and determination built a legacy that echoes even today.
Mike Styler keeps them in mind as he leads water management efforts statewide. He’s executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources now, but he grew up on a central Utah farm.
“Yeah, that's been ingrained with me,” he says. “Without the life blood of water and catching it when it comes in the spring and holding it for later use -- without that, we're in trouble.”
The specter of water shortages in the nation’s second-driest state is sobering. And, if projections are right, twice as many people will live in Utah in just 45 years. That means more stress on an already strained resource.