Year of Water

USU Digital Exhibits, accessed September 25, 2015, http://exhibits.usu.edu/items/show/8755

A lot of people who move to Logan, Utah, from out of state have this moment when they think a water main must have ruptured because there’s a lot of water gushing down the street. Nope. That’s just ditch water and many people have to figure out how to get water from the that ditch to their lawn or vegetable garden and there are no instructions for this.

This episode of The Source is all about irrigation -- the kind that farmers do and the kind that residents of Logan have to do with a system that was designed by the very first settlers to the valley. We’ll talk about what’s changed, what hasn’t and what needs to when it comes to watering your lawn or tomatoes.


USU's NR Days Teaches Children About Water Quality

Sep 23, 2015
Christopher Campbell

Last week, students and faculty from Utah State University’s College of Natural Resources led field lessons with elementary school students from around Cache Valley during something they call “NR Days.”

USU’s Water Quality Extension programs coordinator Brian Greene taught elementary school students about insects that live in streams for the first part of their lives and in the air as adults. They are called aquatic macroinvertebrates, and Greene said they are biological indicators of clean, healthy water.

J. Urquhart, Mars Society

Utah has some unique water problems but they’re not that unique. Studying water in Utah can tell us a lot about similar places that also rely on high mountain snowpack for their yearly allotment. But a lot of the research involving water in Utah has implications way beyond that.

In this hour, four stories about local research with global legs. From feeding people in the Nile Delta to informing policy in Pakistan. From negotiating the shifting watery border between the U.S. and Mexico to...camping on Mars, we’re going far out on The Source.

Ryan Cunningham

For something so elemental, natural, essential and seemingly basic, there’s as much complexity to water as you’re willing to chase. From hydrology and fluid dynamics to understanding aquatic habitats to learning to swim or xeriscape your yard, there’s a lot to learn about water.

This week on The Source we’re talking about education and water. From swiftwater rescue classes to a day at the aquarium, we’ll meet unique teachers and students who specialize in aspects of water you might not have ever thought about.

Anthony Quintano via Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/quintanomedia

The lake level in the Great Salt Lake got so low last month that the sailboats in the marina all had to be removed until there’s enough water to sail again. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has already qualified two Utah counties as disaster areas due to drought. It seems like Utah is on the fringe of the worst of the Western drought, but we are not immune.Utah Public Radio is partnering with newsrooms across the country to see how everyday people are feeling the effect—or not—of the drought.

We'll use your insights for news coverage of the drought this summer and programs like Access Utah and The Source.

Share Your Drought Insights

Pacificorp

Hydropower projects borrow water from rivers to create electricity, but while that water is impounded in reservoirs and forced into high pressure tubes, it’s temporarily unavailable for fun uses, like whitewater kayaking. Jennifer Pemberton has this story about prioritizing recreation on the Weber River.

At the diversion dam on the Weber River just a few miles up the canyon from the town of Ogden, the water just disappears. There’s a wide swollen reservoir backed up behind the dam, but downstream, there are a lot of exposed rocks with just a trickle of water running between. Because most of the river is in a concrete pipe.

Jennifer Pemberton

When water is left alone, it makes a mess. It backs up into wetlands. Rivers overflow their banks. Mud and silt builds up, new channels open up. But Elijah Portugal, who studies how rivers and streams shape the land, says that that mess is what rivers need to be functional. “Messiness matters,” he says.

In this program, we’ll meet some of the people who have been responsible for cleaning up rivers: the state and federal agencies responsible for controlling water -- for making sure it doesn’t slow down or back up, that it gets to where we need it as efficiently as possible. We’ll also meet people who appreciate the messiness of streams in their natural states -- it’s that messiness that creates great habitat for fish and birds and a host of other ecosystem benefits. And we’ll meet the creatures that mess up watersheds in the best possible way. The hour is all about Beavers and Dams.


The man who used to head the nation’s dam-building agency is now advocating for tearing them down. The Source’s Jennifer Pemberton talked to Dan Beard, author of Deadbeat Dams: Why We Should Abolish the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Tear Down Glen Canyon Dam.
 

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has left an indelible mark on the West, helping homesteaders use the desert river systems to not only make themselves at home but also to create opportunity for their economic viability.

Jennifer Pemberton

It’s the fourth largest lake of its kind in the world, but the Great Salt Lake is often underappreciated in Utah. With the lake level within a foot or two of its record low, now is a good time to get to know the Great Salt Lake.

Over 7 million migratory birds stop at the lake each year, stocking up for their epic journeys across continents. Between the people who come to appreciate the birds and a handful of specialized industries, the lake brings in over a billion dollars for the state each year.

In this episode of The Source, we’ll hear from researchers and resource managers as well as residents and visitors to the Great Salt Lake. We’ll learn how close we are to actually losing the lake forever and some of the threats that are challenging it well beyond its usual ups and downs.


We Came Here For The Promise Of Destruction

Mar 26, 2015
Elaine Taylor

Like most February days in southern California, it’s sunny and near 80 degrees. My boyfriend and I, both being very fair, have smeared a thick layer of SPF 50 onto our exposed skin. We have decided to forgo a fancy dinner for Valentine’s Day and instead camp in the remote desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Every other couple from L.A. has apparently decided to do this too, and the park feels an awful lot like Disneyland.

Jennifer Pemberton

<<Share Your Spiral Jetty Story>>

Robert Smithson's famous work of land art -- Spiral Jetty -- was completed in 1970. A few short years later, the artwork was inundated with a rising lake level of the Great Salt Lake and stayed mostly submerged for 30 years.

As Utah heads into a drought, the lake level has dropped to a historically low level, exposing the famous Jetty. Have you been there recently? Have you been out to the Great Salt Lake only to find that the Jetty was underwater? What else did you see when you were out there?

We're collecting your Spiral Jetty stories for our next episode of The Source. Share your stories with us online or come talk to host Jennifer Pemberton in person at our Spiral Jetty story booth after the Science Unwrapped presentation "Salty Metaphors" on March 20 at Utah State University.

<<Submit Your Spiral Jetty Story>>

Jennifer Pemberton

Inside every tree there’s enough information to keep researchers around the West busy for their entire careers. This week on the program, a look at dendroclimatology -- using tree rings to re-construct what the climate was like in Utah hundreds of years ago. Because looking at the state’s climate past is the best way to understand the future.

Jennifer Pemberton talks to plant and climate scientists about how they interpret the thousands of tiny rings that make up a tree’s life history into a full picture of the cycles of wet and dry Utah has seen over the past thousand years.


Jennifer Pemberton

By taking tree ring samples from thousands of trees around the West and determining how old each tree is and how many cycles of wet and dry each has been through, researchers are trying to create the clearest picture of climate in the West over the past several centuries and in turn, hopefully, an equally clear glimpse into the future. Jennifer Pemberton joined scientist Justin DeRose on a field trip to collect tree ring samples and sends this report.