Jennifer Pemberton

Reporter / Commentator

Jennifer Pemberton produces a monthly commentary series called Radio Calendar for UPR and can sometimes be heard hosting Morning Edition or anchoring the 5:30 Utah News. She produced our special series on Utah water, Five Billion Gallons, and manages our community engagement reporting project on air pollution in Cache County: Having a Bad Air Day?

She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama and an MBA from Lund University in Sweden. A former ex-patriate living in Europe and Asia, Jennifer is happy to call the West home again. She is a fervent public radio fan and loves to hike in the summer and knit through the winter.


Five Billion Gallons
1:15 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Episode 5: The Technology of Water - Learning More to Use Less

Municipal water lines are stacked up near a construction project in Logan. From the Four Corners to Cache Valley, Utah's water network is in need of constant repair and replacement.
Credit Matt Jensen

Across Utah, utility crews are an in an uphill battle to maintain and modernize water delivery systems. From the desert community of St. George, to verdant Cache Valley, Utah’s water infrastructure is a complex network of old and new piping. Matt Jensen and Jennifer Pemberton report:

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Air Quality
6:00 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Pollution Expert and Children's Choir Bring "Breath of Fresh Air" to Logan

The Intermountain Bioneers hosted Dr. Arden Pope at the Logan Tabernacle, a fitting venue for "preaching to the choir."

The Intermountain Bioneers, the local branch of a national environmental education group, brought economist and public health expert Dr. Arden Pope to Logan on Friday night, to kick off their 10th annual conference. UPR’s Jennifer Pemberton tells us why Dr. Pope’s research always hits home in Cache Valley.

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Five Billion Gallons
12:57 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Episode 4: Forecasting a Crop's Water Needs

This Crop Water Stress Map shows an area west of Delta, Utah. The colors indicate water needs.
Credit Utah Water Research Laboratory

We live in an ambitious desert society here in Utah. Food crops only grow here because we irrigate them with water we divert from rivers and reservoirs.

There's no chance that agriculture could flourish in Utah on rainfall alone. But one way to create more water in our system is to be more efficient with what we have; so researchers are working on making irrigation more predictable - think forecasting. Since the future of Utah's agricultural  industry might depend on the success of this research, we decided to learn more. Matt Jensen has the story.

Reporter Matt Jensen speaks with a pair of researchers about new technology being developed to forecast water needs on the farm.

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5:36 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Fall is the New Spring

Rabbit and sage brush bloom in the fall after the heat breaks in the high desert West.

There are many indications of autumn's arrival besides the changing color of the leaves. Jennifer Pemberton declares that Fall is the new Spring in this month's commentary.

"There are plants all over the world that bloom in the fall, when the heat breaks, when the rains fall, when the winds start blowing, when the ground threatens to freeze. There are crocuses in my neighborhood; the same flower that is first to crack the ice and blossom in the snow, breaks through the mud and leaf litter to show off its delicate lavender petals amid the harvest browns and reds."

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Five Billion Gallons
1:19 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Episode 3: The Royal Treatment - Living in Treated Wastewater

A Bonneville cutthroat trout is seen inside a tank at the visitors center of the Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District.
Credit Matt Jensen

The water cycle in communities across Utah is pretty straightforward. Water comes out of creeks and reservoirs, serves some purpose, and is put back into the chain further downstream. But as Matt Jensen explains, as the state’s population continues to rise, what we put back into the chain often comes with more than just water.

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Five Billion Gallons
9:54 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Episode 2: What Trees Know about Drought

Researchers can reconstruct historic and pre-historic water flows of western rivers by looking at tree rings from specimens high up in the watershed. The patterns of wet and dry cycles are revealing and can help plan for resource management in the future.
Credit Jennifer Pemberton

The trees in Utah's forests suck up water like sponges, and leave a record in their growth rings of when there was a lot of water in the region and when there was very little. Researchers are learning to decode the tree ring record and reconstruct what Utah's watersheds have been through over the past millennium. Today on the program, we bring you the story of how Utah's water past can help us plan for Utah's water future.

Special thanks for help with this episode to Western Water Assessment, Wasatch Dendroclimatology Research Group (WADR), and the Utah Climate Center.

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Five Billion Gallons
9:49 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Episode 1: Making the Desert Blossom as a Lawn

After water falls from the sky as rain or snow, this graphic shows where it ends up.

Today on Five Billion Gallons we introduce Utah's water cycle, from rain to lawn, and when it doesn't rain for awhile, which it often doesn't,  there are quite a few steps in between. It turns out that those five billion gallons we use every day in Utah are only accounting for residential water -- the water we use to wash our clothes and our dishes and our hair and also the water we use to water our lawns and backyard gardens. Our per capita use of water is nearly the highest in the nation, just behind Nevada and Idaho. So why are we personally using so much water? According to the state Division of Water Resources, there is a pretty simple answer: it's our legacy. Utah's founders decreed that the desert should be made to blossom as a rose, and it did. It still does. But at what cost?

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10:00 am
Tue September 3, 2013

The Sky is Falling: Perseids Meteor Shower Brings Change

The 1833 Leonids meteor storm terrified early Americans, causing numerous revelations and changing of ways. It also caused intense scientific study of meteors that moved meteor showers out of folklore and into astronomy.

It’s the end of August and the sky is falling. Jennifer Pemberton tells us why the Perseids meteor shower always brings change.

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Water Blues
9:24 am
Wed August 28, 2013

Utah Wants to Hear from You: Public Ideas on Utah's Water Future Accepted Until August 31

Logan was the last stop for the Utah's Water Future town hall meetings this summer.
Credit Cache Anglers

Logan was the last stop for a series of Town Hall meetings soliciting public input on Utah’s Water Future. Jennifer Pemberton and Matt Jensen from UPR's Five Billion Gallons program were there to get to know all the stakeholders in Utah's Water Future.

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3:50 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Reflection through fire: Life in the West

The Owyhee Fire burned over 46,000 acres on the Idaho – Oregon border in July, prompting Jennifer Pemberton to reflect on the role of wildfire in the West and in her life.
Credit Argus Observer

While it’s not exactly a time to celebrate, fire season can be a time of reflection for those of us who live in the West.

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