Water is just about the most precious commodity we have. In the American Southwest, it’s a scarce thing, making it even more precious. I often joke that water here is more valued than gold—except that it’s not really a joke. I am in awe of water every day that I live here. Its importance is very keenly felt when one lives in or visits a desert!
Clean, accessible water is a very real problem all over the world. Today, for Blog Action Day 2010, water is the buzzword. If you’re traveling to this gorgeous but very arid region of southern Utah, here are some things to consider about WATER:
- Carry a lot of it if you hike. Like, a lot. Destinations such as the world-famous Delicate Arch in Arches National Park or Angels Landing in Zion National Park are going to be a lot more fun if you bring water to fuel your way. Want to do your part in saving the world? Buy as little bottled water as you can. Did you know that the average American consumes 200 bottles of water per year, and that 17 millions barrels of oil are needed to produce those bottles? The mind boggles. Bring your resuable bottles made by companies like Klean Kanteen or hydration packs from Camelbak or Osprey, and find out if the local tap water is safe to drink. I bet it is. It’s all I use where I live.
- Watch where you heed the call of nature. Sure, bathrooms and pit toilets exist in national parks, but sometimes not along the trail you’re hiking. If you’re hiking near or in a stream, such as the Zion Narrows through the Virgin River, you should find sand or gravel to pee on…not in the river, please. As for pooping? You gotta do it in a bag and carry it out. I know, I know, it’s not as if you’re dumping toxic waste into a water source. But still…waste is waste. Read the stats. Rivers are a useful renewable resource only if they’re clean enough for us to drink.
- The Colorado River cuts a mighty swath through Utah. Oddly enough, though, most of its water goes to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. And there is evidence that it is a shrinking resource for those extremely dependent cities. Raft the Colorado, hike along its banks, admire the deep and beautiful canyons it has cut into the land. But remember that it needs our respect and wise use if we want it to continue on as nature probably intended. (I grew up in L.A….but I don’t think nature intended my hometown to be watered by the Colorado.)
Then get out there. See how water carved and shaped and created this exquisite landscape, making it a travel destination for people from around the world. Be in awe of the power of water, treat it well (don’t pollute!), remember to drink it often, and be grateful that we still have access to clean, drinkable water here. I think it’s a bit sad to say that we’re lucky because of that.