Coping and Resilience in the Face of Severe Drought

The Hinckley Institute Radio Hour (Original Air Date: February 2, 2022) — This week on the program, a panel of experts discusses the increasing frequency and severity of drought in Utah and how changes to water use can make the state more resilient in the face of a warming climate.

Last summer, the Great Salt Lake hit historic lows not seen in over a century and a half. If the shrinkage of the lake is not stopped, researchers at Weber State University say it could mean cascading negative effects on Utah’s wildlife, economy and air quality. However, a new bill before the Utah legislature could be a step in the right direction. The Great Salt Lake Drought Contingency Bill would impose secondary water fees when the lake falls below certain thresholds. This would balance Utah’s inordinately low water costs—which are usually covered by property taxes— against the needs of the lake, to create a market-based incentive to conserve water and preserve one of the state’s natural wonders.

The panel includes Seth Arens, research scientist at the Western Water Assessment and affiliate at the Global Change and Sustainability Center and the U Water Center; Juliet Carlisle, associate professor of in the Political Science Department at the University of Utah; Phil Dean, public finance senior researcher at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute; and Teresa Wilhelmsen, state engineer and director of the Utah Division of Water Rights. This panel is moderated by Kerry Case, chief sustainability officer at the University of Utah.

This forum was made in partnership with the University of Utah’s Office of Sustainability.

This forum was recorded on September 15th, 2021.

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