Water expert Phil Pohl plans a presentation on June 21 at San Juan College

  • Pohl will speak at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 21, at the 9,000 rooms of the Henderson Fine Arts Center on the San Juan College campus.
  • His presentation is also accessible via the Zoom meeting.
  • Call 505-566-4100 for more information.

FARMINGTON – Even though news about the long-term future of water in the Southwest seems to be getting worse by the day, water expert Phil Pohl makes a compelling argument that the situation in San Juan County is relatively pink.

“I think it’s a good situation, one of the best on the planet,” said Tijeras college math and science professor and member of the engineering advisory board of the Technical University of Navajo. “I think they are in good shape.”

Pohl – who will give a talk on water issues at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 21 at the 9,000 rooms of the Henderson Fine Arts Center on the San Juan College campus, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington – bases this assessment on what he has seen on his travels over the past 20 years to places such as Libya, Tunisia, El Salvador, Egypt, Morocco, Oman, the Netherlands , Jordan, Italy and Mexico.

Related:San Juan County Commission declares drought catastrophic

The former Sandia National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researcher said most other water-hungry places on the planet have all fallen into the same trap. But the people of San Juan County have benefited from years of wise and rational policy making around their water allocation, which will allow the county to avoid the kind of pitched battles between competing interests that others do. places are likely to be seen in the years to come. .

“Everyone on the planet has promised too much, asked for too much and used too much of their water,” he said. “But you had cool, calm, united people to make decisions.”

That’s not to say that San Juan County won’t face its own challenges in the future, especially if the intense drought that has plagued the southwest for much of the past 20 years worsens. But Pohl said it’s clear the county has long had people from multiple agencies doing the hard work necessary to keep the water supply and demand in balance.

Phil Pohl says San Juan County is much better off than most places when it comes to its balance between supply and demand for water.

He said in a telephone interview on June 17 that he is still preparing for his conference in Farmington, which will include a PowerPoint presentation and cover areas such as desalination, agriculture, the Gold King mine spill and the energy / water link. Pohl said he tends to view water issues from a “wide, 30,000 foot” perspective, but he looks forward to interacting with his audience here and listening to their questions and comments on these issues. topics.

Pohl’s talk is presented in conjunction with the San Juan School of Energy and the San Juan Soil & Water Conservation District, and he expects representatives from these two entities to be a significant part of the crowd. But he also predicts that there will be a lot of regular people in the audience, and he promised his presentation would be accessible to everyone.

“I could go adrift on science at least once, but nothing too serious,” he said with a laugh.

Pohl noted the increased media attention to water issues in recent times. He said he welcomes this focus, although he jokingly noted that it is only beginning to approach the degree of attention that the “Friends” meeting has received.

Others read:A Farmington painter’s journey through the Grand Canyon captured in new exhibit at museum

He knows the audience he faces here will likely be particularly interested in his thoughts on the intersection of water and energy, given San Juan County’s long-standing status as a producer of fossil fuels. . He spoke of the many ways in which water is integral to oil and gas production and electricity generation, although many people don’t think of it in those terms.

He cited the potential for cleaning and reusing water that is part of the drilling process. In San Juan County, that’s about 1,000 acre-feet per year, he said – not a lot, but a total that could make a difference.

“It’s something that could be used, that could add value to the community if it was cleaned up,” he said. “Right now he’s just being re-injected, and that’s not the best option.”

A significant amount of water is also used in the cooling towers of county power plants, he said, although those facilities don’t use as much water as many of their counterparts in the United States.

Pohl said that due to the arid environment surrounding residents of the southwest, he believes people here may have a better appreciation of their natural environment and the value of water than people in other wetter parts of the country. But he believes the time is quickly approaching when everyone will have to face the realities of a tighter water supply.

“Until the stress starts to grip people, nothing gets done,” he said.

Pohl’s lecture will also be presented via a Zoom meeting format. To join the meeting, enter the URL link sanjuancollege-edu.zoom.us/j/92453834758. Call 505-566-4100 for more information.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or [email protected] Support local journalism with a digital subscription.

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