The Source: the Year of Water in Review

Jan 28, 2016

In this final episode of The Source, a look back at 2015 -- the Year of Water. There was a lot of water news to follow from the drought to deadly flash floods in Hilldale to the toxic sludge that flowed into the state from the Gold King Mine in Colorado. There was a massive state water audit and big talks about big projects with big budgets causing big changes to how we’ll get our water in Utah.

But in the background of the daily news, there were ongoing stories -- some that stretch back thousands of years and that we won’t know the endings of for thousands more. The climate is changing, but compared to what? The Great Salt Lake is drying up compared to what it once was. We’re using beavers to engineer our streams, which is what they were always designed to do. We look back on a year of telling Utah’s water stories. Plus some updates on invasive quagga mussels, the South Logan Walmart beavers, the stream access lawsuit, and water on Mars.


Part 1
Jennifer Pemberton and Ross Chambless are in the studio together for the very first time talking about how they collaborated remotely for a year on water stories. Ross covered a lot of policy and legal issues in 2015. In May, he examined a particularly contentious legal battle on the show, between private property owners and recreationalists who want access to public rivers and streams. He has an update on that case. Plus, the state’s battle against invasive quagga mussels (“The STD of the Sea”) heats up with the “Quagga Bowl.”

Part 2
Ross’s extended metaphor comparing the invasive phragmites grass to the Gremlins (from the invasive species episode) gets even more elaborate when he tells us about the native form of the grass in Utah.

Jennifer talks about her favorite assignment — checking in on the beaver pond at the Logan South Walmart — and a has an update on the scientific tweaks to their pond complex that will ensure they can live harmoniously in their “shopping cart habitat.”

Last August, we made a program called “The Far Reaches of Utah Water” that explored how Utah water research was being used outside of Utah -- in other states and other countries. Producer Ryan Cunningham took it a step further and reported on Utah’s relationship to the search for water on Mars. He has probably the biggest update of the year in water news.

Part 3
Ross and Jennifer share what they think were the most important water stories of the past year. Jennifer shares the consequences of the north arm of the Great Salt Lake reaching it’s lowest level in recorded history. Ross brings up the legislative water audit, which had implications on just about every issue we covered on the show.

Credit Jennifer Pemberton

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