PODCAST: “Whiskey’s for Drinkin’ and Water’s for Fighting'”
Mark Pepper is the executive director at Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems. He stopped by the Townsquare Media building to chat on our most recent episode of Report to Wyoming.
We talk about all-things-water, but the biggest issue is the lack thereof.
"Even though it's raining like heck outside and we've had probably one of the best winters we've ever had in decades, we're still in a drought. This is the 23rd year of the drought" said Pepper.
"At some point somebody has to cry wolf."
Pepper explained that the aquifiers have not had the inches of moisture to completely recharge them in decades, and it's not just a problem we see here, but within all the Upper Basin States that feed into the Colorado River. Sure, we've had plenty of precipitation this year, but now we need that to happen for the next twenty years.
"We're expecting by October 2023, Lake Powell and Lake Mead may have risen four feet -- so only 100 feet to go and we're right back to where we need to be."
As the water supply shrinks, water experts must consider what to do next.
Are we looking at water restrictions? He thinks so. Cheyenne already has them.
Pepper believes that conservation is key, and it will come in the form of rate hikes and potential restrictions. We talk about mitigators like efficient water tanks and alternatives to Kentucky blue grass lawns.
"We're going to have to start making some really difficult choices," said Pepper. "There's a lot coming down the pike that's going to require a lot of updates and treatments to our water services, [too]. The pipes are old -- that's for the water and wastewater system. We're going to have to replace a lot of those..."
Listen to the full conversation here.