A digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America, by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based at the University of Kentucky.
Links may expire, require subscription or go behind pay walls. Please send news and knowledge you think would be useful to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter @RuralJournalism
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Drought makes some towns slow or halt development
Oakley, Utah, a community of 1,470 near Salt Lake City in Summit County (Wikipedia map)
The nation's five fastest-growing states are all in the Mountain West or Southwest, and all are facing severe drought. That drought has prompted many Western communities to halt development. In Oakley, Utah, for example, the drought has "depleted the natural springs that supply water to the community. During each of the past several summers, local leaders worried that quenching any major fire might empty the city’s water tanks," Alex Brown reports for Stateline. Though the city issued water-use restrictions this spring, constituents complained that the city continued issuing building permits, since new construction means more households using water, including newly-laid sod that would need to be watered."A rainy autumn has helped replenish Oakley’s water, and the city plans to drill a new well later this year. That should allow the city to double its water capacity and rescind the building moratorium," Brown reports. "But even as Oakley’s fortunes improve, communities throughout the West are facing difficult questions about water scarcity and what it means for future growth—especially because climate change is expected to make such droughts more frequent and intense."