In a stunning time-lapse video from NASA, you can watch how Lake Powell's water level has dropped—and dropped—since 1999. Despite the climate-change naysayers, the West just keeps on drying up. Now we have the governor signing a bill to fund a pipeline to bring water from Lake Powell to Kane and Washington counties. Let's start with $5 million from the state's general fund for large projects that could cost billions. All this despite a slowing population growth in the area, notes Zach Frankel of the Utah Rivers Council. Meanwhile, dam projects are becoming less and less viable. An Envision Utah survey is asking people to weigh in on the kind of future they want. But Utah is unlikely to call for water rationing like California. Hell, we won't even ban wood burning.
After much talk, Utah has come out with its 10-year plan to reduce intergenerational poverty. That the state acknowledges the issue is good news. The plan contains some good goals, too, such as focusing on high school graduation. "One very positive thing about this plan is that it acknowledges the fact that the quickest way to move children out of intergenerational poverty is to help their parents to earn more money," wrote Bill Tibbitts on the Utah Poverty News blog. But the big problem is what Tibbitts calls all the "fuzzy goals" of the plan, like increasing the number of children living in stable families in five years. Of course, there are no "hows" in the report, but acknowledgement is the first step. Then you get fuzzy goals. Now they need to get specific.
Footing the Bill
Reporters have funny ideas about what the public wants to know about President Obama's recent visit to Utah. For instance, why did the president stay at the Sheraton instead of the Grand America? There was lots of conjecture in The Salt Lake Tribune, where we also got a front-page story about how cool it was for Thomas Burr to ride in Air Force One—because we want to know. We saw giddy photos of Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and others, all of whom laid claim to urging the president to come to Utah. But the big unanswered question remains: How much did Salt Lake City have to pay for presidential security? There were dump trucks surrounding the hotel and surely other arrangements in addition to his personal Secret Service detail. Yes, it's a great honor to host the president in Utah—it's probably an expensive one, too.