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Hot and Dry – Again

By Staff | Jun 23, 2021

I was in Las Vegas earlier this month. We met relatives from Florida for a long weekend. It was their first time to Vegas so we enjoyed the visit together as tourists.

One of the first things we did was visit the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign. My theory is that it always helps to take pictures by signs as a memory aid. When I become old(er), I’ll be able to look at pictures and perhaps have a chance of remembering where I was when I was still brave enough to wear shorts and odd tee shirts.

Among other things, we went in and out of a dozen hotel/casinos, attended impressionist Rich Little’s show (yes, he’s still alive and doing well at 82), did a zip line ride off the 51st story of The Rio, saw the water fountain show in front of the Bellagio, and drove out to Hoover Dam.

Those last two things I mentioned were of particular interest to me. The reason? – they involved water. The fountain show was spectacular and normal, as I’ve seen it before. Lake Mead, behind Hoover Dam, was spectacular and sadly, spectacularly abnormal, as I’ve never seen it before.

Water levels there are at a record low. I read that the lake has dropped about 140 feet since last year. The last time Lake Mead was considered “full” was the year 2000. Many experts say that it will never be full again.

Of course, reservoirs, lakes, and streams are low everywhere in our region. In Sanpete, water is on everyone’s mind.

People at church – farmers especially, talk about fasting and praying for rain. Even Governor Cox has asked that we pray for rain.

I sympathize with this idea. I’m a farmer too. Well, that might be stretching it. I have a little bit of a garden and what seems like a half acre of dry lawn.

We’ve got a few varieties of squash planted – yellow and green zucchini, spaghetti, and crookneck. I hope to have a few tomatoes, cucumbers and cabbage eventually. Besides a few peas, that’s all I’ve planted this year on account of the water situation.

I continue to wage war on deer that seem to love the taste of tomato plants. There’s a family of deer that seems to have taken up residence in the neighborhood. I think I have some non-garden neighbors who actually feed them for fun just so they can “be friends” with them.

I know that I’m living on land that used to be “deer lands.” But at this point in time, my political view is that the deer are “illegal immigrants” in my yard. I have a deed and they’re trespassing. The neighbors can continue to feed them if they want to, as “reparations” for the deer being pushed off their “native lands.”

I just wish that the Division of Wildlife Resources would put the “town deer” on a bus and send them back to the Manti-LaSal National Forest. I know, I know – the forest is only a hop, skip and a jump away. That’s the trouble – it’s a border war.

The drought thing comes up seemingly every year. It’s not really surprising. Here’s a little snip out of the Utah Division of Water Resources website: “Even in normal years, Utah has a limited water supply. It is the second driest state in the nation. Most of Utah is classified as a desert receiving less than 13 inches of annual precipitation.”

I’ve been hearing about water shortages and droughts since I was old enough to turn on a water tap and play in the sprinkler. Prayers in church for precipitation have been something I’ve heard my entire life.

The phase “…please bless us with rain and snow so that we’ll have sufficient water to sustain our crops and gardens…” is something most kids around here can insert into a prayer without thinking twice.

Sanpeters do a lot of praying for rain. Utahns, in general, are “pray-ers” for rain as well. Lots of times when people pray in public they’ll thank the Lord for the “moisture” we’ve received or pray for “moisture.”

Some time back, I heard that one of the church authorities in Sanpete had a comment on the subject. He told a guy who prayed for “moisture” that from now on in that year, we’re not to pray for “moisture;” we’re to pray for “rain.” No more pussyfootin’ around with our requests from heaven. We want rain and a lot of it.

Water is the lifeblood of the land. The pioneers who settled this part of the country realized that. When they arrived, there was no time wasted in getting to work on construction of reservoirs and irrigation systems.

The development of these valleys into green producing agricultural areas is really nothing short of amazing when you think about it. It happened as a result of careful and smart management of the water resources.

Regardless of how formally we’ve been put on emergency drought notice or not, it’s a good idea to start or continue to be smart about our water usage.

I hope we get some relief soon from the dry conditions and fires. I’ll keep praying and hope my fellow Sanpeters do too. I may even find a drum and start beating it like Burt Lancaster did in the movie “The Rainmaker.” Hey! – It can’t hurt.

– Merrill

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