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'Science Be Damned': Water Rights And Scarcity With Eric Kuhn On Wednesday's Access Utah


Eric Kuhn, retired General Manager of the Colorado River Water Conservancy District, will speak about his new book “Science Be Dammed.” The talk was held in ENGR 201 at 3:30p on Wednesday, October 2.
Eric Kuhn is among the most respected water managers in the Colorado River basin. He is an engineer by training and pursued a thoughtful and creative program to manage West Slope Colorado water resources, meeting the challenge of confronting multiple needs and interests --  to divert water to East Slope Colorado, develop water resources on the West Slope, and meet downstream commitments to other Basin States.
Kuhn’s book, cowritten with John Fleck, examines one of the long held myths of the Colorado River. This myth is that the unusually wet runoff conditions of the early 20th century were not well understood by those who negotiated the Colorado River Compact. Thus, the Compact negotiators assumed there was more water to divide than there actually was. Kuhn and Fleck provide a historical perspective on the state-of-river-science in the early 20th century and show that Compact negotiators chose to primarily use information that was convenient to their policy goals. This story illustrates the persistent tension and challenge in applying the best science to public policy and the challenge in communicating scientific uncertainty in policy development.

Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.