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Front Page » May 22, 2014 » Opinion » Teen View: About that water
Published 68 days ago

Teen View: About that water


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By REBECCA SCOTT and CATHERINE STODDARD
Pinnacle High School

As July's monsoon clouds hit the Wasatch Plateau just above Pole Canyon, a single drop of rain hits the bare ground where Bull Elk and Artic Cats have left their trace. Soil is splashed across the landscape, picking up other bare soils along the way. Perhaps, Huntington Creek's brown trout fish become startled as the bare soils and debris channel down and empty into the waters they call home.

Residents of Castle Valley, the northern desert province of the Colorado Plateau and the San Rafael Swell, have grown to appreciate every drop of water, especially when bucketing it to dairy cows at the mouth of Huntington Canyon.

Teen View first began examining Castle Valley's hydrologic cycle, the circulation of water in nature, by going to Richard Shaw - journalist, publisher, and editor who has dedicated more space in his newspapers, the Sun Advocate of Price and the Emery County Progress, to Castle Valley's water issues than any other publication.

As Teen View bombarded Shaw with prepared questions, his passion for the topic became evident. Shaw was asked what Castle Valley residents and enterprises can do to ensure continued and adequate utilization of water resources. Shaw indicated that residents should conserve water as much as possible because if there is little winter snow pack, as is the case presently, there will be less water to distribute in 2014.

Teen View also asked Shaw which agencies or individuals have the most influence on the collection and distribution of Castle Valley's water. Shaw's response stopped Teen View in its tracks.

Shaw explained that the State of Utah owns all water rights, including the rain that runs off roofs onto the ground, and that a myriad of agencies, districts, and administrators control our drops of rain and water usage. Teen View quickly realized that water right issues are bigger and more political than originally imagined.

Shaw recommended to Teen View that before they ask agencies for reasonable information requests that they first find out what the agency does and what their position is on water issues because there are often conflicts between agencies; each having their own ideas and goals pertaining to water issues.

After meeting with Shaw, Teen View decided to gather more information on the fundamental elements of hydrology. Teen View turned to Jan Curtis-Tollestrup, Hydrologist, and Robert Davidson, Soil Scientist, for answers about conservation. Both Curtis-Tollestrup and Davidson work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Manti-La Sal National Forest.

Curtis-Tollestrup and Davidson told Teen View that water conservation starts with the soil; that organisms contained in the soil hold together the organic material needed for optimal water stabilization and that "a handful of moist, fertile soil contains more organisms than there are people on earth". And, that if the forest is mostly water stable, Castle Valley will bathe in the summertime.

Because of the seriousness of the water situation in rural Carbon and Emery Counties, Teen View is asking residence of this Jurassic and Cretaceous landscape to protect and keep their soils healthy. In addition, Teen View would like to see area youth become involved in local and western water and public domain utilization issues, policies, and laws by researching issues and talking to local legislators, as well as join the dialogue with other teens throughout the U.S.

If you are a teacher at Green River, Emery, Carbon, or Grand High Schools and have student who would like to be considered for TEEN VIEW, please contact Craig Royce at Pinnacle Canyon Academy at 435-888-2234 or Christina Collingwood at christina.collingwood@usu.edu.

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