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The Sinkhole Swallowing Southern Utah

The road to a planned development that’s been scrapped because the water table is drying up and creating sinkholes.

Here in the beautiful red rock country of Southern Utah, we’re running out of water. The water table is being sucked so dry that the ground is collapsing in some parts, and a section of Interstate 15 is now in danger of rupturing into a sinkhole.

The sinkhole is developing a few miles north of St George, a once-small, sleepy town that could get most of the water it needed from the Virgin River as it flowed out of nearby Zion National Park.

But 10 years ago, St George became the second fastest-growing metropolitan area in the country, and it’s now expected to quadruple in population over the next 40 years.

A mega-drought that’s tightening its grip every year and settling in for centuries to come.So, the plan now is to build a 139-mile pipeline from Lake Powell, where the Colorado River is dammed up at the north end of the Grand Canyon. Lake Powell, like Lake Mead at the other end of the Grand Canyon, just outside of Las Vegas, has already sunk to just 45 percent of its capacity, and keeps dropping.

The once-mighty Colorado, the main water artery for much of the Southwest, including endlessly ballooning cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas, used to flow all the way to the Gulf of California. Today it dribbles away a few miles south of Vegas, ending up as a muddy pond with a few ducks paddling around in it next to a line of cheap casinos.

On a documentary on the local PBS affiliate this week, a water official talked ponderously about how “no option can be taken off the table,” but made no mention of the one essential option, which would be to stem the massively increasing human population and “economic growth and progress” in a region that’s now just in the early stages of a mega-drought that’s tightening its grip every year and settling in for centuries to come.

Expect more sinkholes here.