Creeping deserts

This is an archived article that was published on in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The facts are in: The West's population is increasing, while its water is decreasing. The conclusion drawn in the editorial "The Colorado River: Water will become more valuable" (Our View, Dec. 16) is correct, as far as it goes. Individual conservation is critical to mitigating this looming imbalance. However, it is not the only thing to be done.

We need to develop water policies that extend beyond voluntary water usage guidelines for households and take into account the business and agriculture spheres. This should be approached from a regional perspective, as well as by local and state agencies.

A critical issue we must attend to is the increasing desertification of the Southwest. In addition to diminishing rainfall, other factors below and above Earth's surface are accelerating this trend.

On the Colorado Plateau, overgrazing, excessive use of outdoor recreational vehicles and the extractive industries' invasive techniques are disturbing the topsoil to the point where dust is a serious problem. Dust on snow accelerates snow melt and lowers downstream waters.

Decreasing dust creation in large ecosystems by protecting them via national monument status — such as the proposed Greater Canyonlands National Monument — would be a significant water conservation step in the right direction.

Jeff Clay

Salt Lake City