Nevada no 1 in per capita water use; Utah no 2

These most arid states are frivolous in their water use-

The direct reason for this is their determination to grow and do things that belong in water rich areas — fight the areas’ natural lack of water or fight some other natural factor.*  That’s why they build so many dams, dewater their streams, construct huge water pipelines, and mine desert aquifers.

The article below says Utah is making considerable progress reducing per capita consumption.

Conservation report card: Utah trying to cut use, but still a top water guzzler. By Patty Henetz. The Salt Lake Tribune

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* Rich County, Utah is the coldest area in Utah during the winter.






  1. kt Avatar

    I read the article. What is most bizarre is that Utah’s “goal” by 2050 is not much less water than is used now. Yet imagine how the Utah population is going to increase by 2050.

    The water goal is still ridiculously high.

    Isn’t Idaho where cows out-number people — like — No. 3 or something? I wonder if Butch Otter’s goal is to be #1?

  2. Vielfrass Avatar

    Having lived in Utah shouldn’t sustainable population growth be a priority? Each family cannot have five kids and use that much water.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    You’ve got to be kidding, sustainable population in Utah? I grew up there. That won’t happen.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Yes, Idaho is very high, but doesn’t need quite as much water diversion due to a wetter climate.

    In Idaho, unlike Nevada, and unlike Utah, the big water diversions are for agriculture, increasingly livestock in CAFOs.

  5. Mike Avatar

    Ralph I’ve never understood the concept of moving to the desert and then complaining about lack of water.

  6. monty Avatar

    Wars are fought for space, resources and property. People use religion to justify human excesses, like “breeding” beyond the capacity of a given parcel of land to support the population so they start “raiding” adjacent lands for resources. Liberity w/out restraint is an allusion. Doesn’t the bible speak “to a plague of locust” that is nothing more than any given organism “breeding beyond the capability of the land to support it, including humans. If there is a “Creator” I would assume that He or She would Curse any organism that destroys His or Her “Creation”.

  7. jimbob Avatar

    Driving through Utah to get to Yellowstone always depresses me. Sorry, Utahans! What could be a beautiful, wildlife rich state is reduced to agriculture where it doesn’t belong (high and low desert) and rivers and riparian areas that are basically turned to aqueducts and canals to carry water. I try to take a different route when I’m not in a hurry. Their water use does not surprise me after seeing all of the farms and lawns in the high desert!

  8. Elizabeth Parker Avatar
    Elizabeth Parker

    jimbob- While I am not defending Utah’s water usage or population growth I am wondering what part of Utah you have driven through to reach Yellowstone. Having lived in Summit County, Utah, for 8+ years I can attest to the fact that Utah is rampant with wildlife and is one of the most beautiful states in the West, IMHO. Large carnivores, in spite of hunting, are plentiful and I can find a moose on a any given day. In my backyard, I have the entire ungulate family, snakes in the summer, porcupines, skunks, bald eagles in winter and a myriad of other bird species year-round. There is even a beaver lodge down the street and this is in a “regular” neighborhood. Not to mention the coyotes, cougars and the odd wolf that strays all the way from Yellowstone. The I-15 corridor is certainly not the prettiest site, but most people living in SLC value the wilderness areas within a half hour’s drive from downtown and respect them. Pollution is a huge problem in Utah, but wildlife abounds and the beauty of the undeveloped areas (most of the state) is almost all national park quality. Utah has 5 national parks and not by accident.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan