Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
John Hollenhorst ReportingWhen you take a drink of water, do you ever stop and think about where that water has been? Like, where that water was yesterday or the day before? A new effort was launched today to get you thinking about that question.
The effort to keep our canyon water pure goes back a long way. In 1851 the city council of Great Salt Lake City forbid cow yards and privies and filthy substances on the banks of streams. Now community leaders are launching a major public education campaign to get you to respect the water.
When creek water runs out of the canyons of the Wasatch, it can reach the lips of almost a half million people within 24 hours. Their enthusiasm for a drink might be damped if they knew what goes on up in the canyons.
Leroy Hooton, SLC. Public Utilities Director: "We've had people pull up in their campers and dump their sewage waste right into the creek. Several years ago we had a person washing diapers in the creek."
OK, maybe that's exceptionally unsocial behavior. But how many of us have unthinkingly degraded the water by say camping in the wrong place, driving off the road in fragile areas or going to the bushes instead of the rest room.
Nancy Workman/Salt Lake County Mayor: "I remember coming up here as a kid, and sliding down that spillway that's over there. Now I come up with my grandkids and they say, 'we can't go in the water because we might have to drink that tomorrow."
County and city leaders are launching a new campaign to get that message across to a big audience.
Rocky Anderson, Salt Lake City Mayor: "Our watershed canyons are extremely popular recreation areas with millions of visitors each year."
Surprisingly, after a century and a half of enormous population growth, the water remains sparklingly pure. The question is: will it stay that way?
The 'Keep It Pure' campaign features new informational signs at trailheads. The message will be spread with bumper stickers, t-shirts, an ad campaign and a new school curriculum. The basic gospel is: it's your drinking water; conduct yourself accordingly.
Leroy Hooton, SLC. Public Utilities Director: "It's behavior and we want them to understand how important their watersheds are."
One of the points underlined today is how lucky we are to have so much recreational opportunity right in our watersheds. Many western cities have had to close their watersheds to keep them pure.