Is Requiring Water Rights for New County Subdivisions Absurd?

by Robert John Stevens, January 2, 2018

Suppose Utah County requires every vehicle buyer to purchase so many gallons of fuel a year.

During inversions when our air is dirty and unhealthy, some want the government to force people to drive less but what do we do about vehicles that consume less fuel?

Some citizens rarely drive and some have shorter commutes to work.

Some may want regulations for vehicles to be clean so they are pleasant to look at. If owners of dirty vehicles won’t comply then does that sound reasonable to pass regulations forcing them to wash their vehicles? Should we bless the owners of car washes?

Do any of these ideas justify a government one-size-solution?

Probably not–reason suggests there are too many variables to adopt such regulations.

Likewise, we like to see green farms; therefore, should we pass regulations requiring any new subdivisions in Utah County to have so many water rights?

But what months must their farms be green? Even irrigated alfalfa fields turn brown in the fall.

Some vegetables and plants can be planted in the late fall or winter months. For those willing to grow peas and flowers with natural rainwater and harvest them before spring, should they be required to have a minimum number of water rights that they won’t need?

What about the want-to-be farmer who wants to build vertical gardens or use hydroponics?

What do we do about innovators who study water recycling and water reuse and claim better agricultural productivity?

I’d like for the government to get out of the business of water rights for new subdivisions. It is hostile to want-to-be farmers and innovators. It keeps families from settling on farmland and children from growing up on farms.

Do we want more farms and more farmers? Do we want more or fewer food imports?

Just as it makes no sense for Utah County to regulate how many gallons of fuel a buyer must purchase, it makes no sense to require more than culinary water for a household.

See water Use in Utah (149 pages)
See https://water.utah.gov/OtherReports/WaterReuse/WaterReuseAA.pdf

–Robert

Costs and Regulations Keep New Farms From Emerging in America

by Robert John Stevens, April 25, 2017

Today I attended the 9:00 a.m. Utah County Commissioner Meeting and when public comments were requested, I walked to the guest speaker’s pulpit and read to the three commissioners1, Google’s definitions of:

liberty — “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views”

oppression — “prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.”

I highlighted the words oppression and prolonged in relation to the fourteen years I’ve worked on developing my 103 acres in Utah County. I told them that before I finish I will have sold more than half of my land just to pay the utilities and government fees required to live on my remaining farmland at a cost of more than $2 million.

I reported that Commissioner Lee and I sponsored a team of BYU students this winter semester whose mission was to determine how unused county lands can be used for agriculture.

After interviewing dozens of farmers, orchard growers and residents, the students reported that the remaining farmers are elderly and their children don’t want to continue farming.

Unless an American grew up on a farm, it is highly unlikely he or she will want to become a farmer.

Today, costs and regulations have made it impossible for most citizens to buy land, build a home and start a farm.

Contrast that to the Utah pioneers who after paying $1.50 for recording and surveying fees, moved onto their property and went to work.

Pioneer families struggled. Hard work was required to get ahead. Employers today would love to hire children that grew up on farms but few can be found.

One BYU Professor friend tells me that he can’t wait to retire because students today do not know how to work.

Because excessive governmental regulations crushed competition, almost no new farms have emerged in Utah County for decades.

The students discovered that most food grown locally is exported outside of Utah County and most of the food we eat is imported. Because regulations protected farmers and halted new farms from forming, big corporations filled the growing public’s need for food. Walmart, Costco and supermarket chains have access to worldwide markets and buy our foods from farmers and distributors thousands of miles away.

Fruit is tracked to the very tree where it was grown.

Utah County won’t remove any regulations unless mandated by the state of Utah—Employees say to change or remove a single regulation would require them to conduct a study to see how that would affect all their other regulations.

A citizen may request a regulation wording change for $300 and will have the opportunity to discuss the issue publicly at a commissioner meeting. Most likely the wording change will be denied. To make matters worse, county employees will not re-word it for acceptance.

I told the commissioners that if I ever ran against them, I’d print their 292 pages of land-use ordinances, and staple them together as one long scroll so voters can see its length. Commissioner Graves laughed and said there are many more regulations than that.

He’s right of course. Add the Utah County Health Department regulations, the state regulations, and more.

Commissioner Graves said all those regulations exists because there were lawsuits.

County regulations aren’t footnoted. Many are probably out of date. Fear and uncertainty also prevent changes.

It has become obvious to me that politicians highly favor large institutions and very wealthy people. If an American wants to do good for the human race, he probably first needs to educate himself, develop a product or service and become wealthy.

As my son Andrew so wisely states, “We are a big-business society. The little guy is only cool when he stops becoming the little guy.”

Footnotes

1 Commissioners Bill Lee, Nathan Ivie, and Greg Gregs