Amy Roberts: Water conservation will be critical after a ski season that never got started |

Amy Roberts: Water conservation will be critical after a ski season that never got started

This coming weekend, the 2017/18 ski season will draw to a close. Most years we’re pretty sad about that, but considering this season still feels like it never really started, I’m ready to hang up the ski gear and get the bikes tuned.

As of right now, I don’t think I’ll bother with the traditional closing day runs — I’ve filled my quota for skiing in a daiquiri this winter. I managed to get out of this season without a trip to the orthopedic surgeon’s office, and with the conditions only looking to worsen over the next couple of days, there’s no need to tempt fate. I’m perfectly happy not meeting my deductible this early.

More than once this winter, I silently accepted the blame for the depressing lack of snow. For the first time in the two decades I’ve lived here, I hired a snow removal company. I’d never considered it prior to the 2016/17 season. But that year was a doozy, and though we’d had similar snow amounts in the past, I wasn’t over 40 for any of them.

Last season, I was constantly late to work attempting to clear the driveway before driving over it. When I did arrive at the office, I often looked as if I’d just finished a marathon. My trusty snow blower had committed suicide by Christmas and it appeared there was significant price gouging when I looked into replacing it. So I shoveled last season, almost daily. By the time March rolled around, I could no longer physically heave the snow over the mounds on either side of my driveway. I even dislocated my shoulder trying to do so.

Our snowpack this year is the lowest it’s been in about 30 years. While our taps aren’t dry, the low snowpack isn’t without consequence.”

As this year’s season approached, I remembered those long, dark hours with my shovel all too vividly. Every time I glanced at it hanging in the garage, mocking me, I swear my shoulder would creak. So I broke down and hired a company to plow the snow this year. Which is clearly why it didn’t snow this year. By my estimation, the guy made $1,000 an hour to dust off my porch.

While I might be giving myself far too much weather controlling credit, I can’t help but feel just a little at fault for the tulips and daffodils that struggled to push through the dirt several weeks too early.

It’s easy to dismiss this as a first-world problem. But the fact is, water shortages are very much first, third and wholly worldwide problem. The city of Cape Town in South Africa has been flirting with a water crisis for years, and many have predicted the city will be entirely out of water later this month. Residents have been restricted to just over 13 gallons of water per person each day. That’s definitely not enough to rinse, lather and repeat.

To suggest that could not happen here is eerily ignorant. Our snowpack this year is the lowest it’s been in about 30 years. While our taps aren’t dry, the low snowpack isn’t without consequence. Wildfire season is upon us, and it looks like it will begin early this year and could be especially intense as the hillsides dry out. The limited water supply is already impacting productivity for ranchers and farmers and makes forests more susceptible to uncontrollable pests. The lack of winter storms this year meant a longer and more extreme inversion season — not good news for anyone actively hoping to avoid breathing in toxic air. Polluted air, natural disasters, food shortages and insect infestations aren’t the ingredients for an ideal place to live.

I hope the city and county do take the water shortage seriously and take measures to curb use. Not the feel-good “idle free” measures, but meaningful and enforceable measures go beyond regulating use and fines. The city and county need to consider progressive options like approving waterless composting toilets and requiring synthetic lawns or xeriscaping for new construction.

Otherwise, we’ll all soon be in hot water.

Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.

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