The Margaret L. Hopkin Middle School is open for business

students walk into the Margaret L. Hopkin Middle School on the first day in the new facility

Students walk into the Margaret L. Hopkin Middle School on the first day in the new facility. Carter Pape, licensed for exclusive use

In time for the first day of classes in the new facility, middle students, teachers, and staff helped move materials into the new Margaret L. Hopkin Middle School over the four-day weekend.

Members of the Moab Rotary Club also helped move computers, books, some furniture and other materials into the new building over the weekend in preparation for the first day of school in the new building on Tuesday, April 27.

The Grand County School District named the new facility after Margaret Hopkin, a longtime educator in Moab who died in December from ovarian cancer known for showing unfettered love and respect for all members of the Moab community.

Members of the Moab Rotary Club wearing high-viz vests pose with computer equipment in front of the new middle school

Members of the Moab Rotary Club helped move computers into the new building. Britta Kingsley, licensed for exclusive use

That community rallied around the effort to name the new building after her — an honor Hopkin now shares with Helen M. Knight, an early and influential superintendent of the district who is the namesake of the elementary school.

The new middle school features classroom architecture that emphasizes freedom of movement and collaboration. Each classroom has a glass wall that faces the hallway of grade’s wing; chairs and stools that spin or roll; and wave-shaped, modular tables.

The school’s gym is a vast expansion from the old facility, large enough to accommodate multiple basketball, volleyball, or other games at once. A ground-floor wing includes specialized spaces for art class, family and consumer sciences, and a maker space.

Space exists on the second floor to build a fourth wing in the future, to accommodate growth in the district’s student body, possibly by moving ninth grade from the high school into the middle school.

Raw: Follow-up on using Colorado River water for irrigation

(I think I want to start using the “raw” classifier when I haven’t put a story together into a cohesive narrative and am just putting down resources like quotes, photos, links, dates, etc.)

Dana Van Horn is the manager of the Grand Water & Sewer Service Agency1, which provides water to much of unincorporated Grand County (Spanish Valley, in particular). I asked her about the prospect of using Colorado River water for irrigation in Moab. Here’s what she had to say:

GWSSA owns approximately 4000 AF of Colorado River water rights. Our 40-year plan includes putting those rights to beneficial use.

Treating surface water for potable use is expensive and the water quality will never be as good as our pristine groundwater. Therefore, it makes sense to use untreated Colorado River water for outdoor watering.

Outdoor use accounts for more than half of all water use in our service area. As a water provider, it is our job to anticipate growth and plan for future water supply needs of our community.

A project of this size will take coordination and cooperation between all the water suppliers in the valley. It may also take years. I believe it is worth investigating.

Dana Van Horn; April 6, 2021

I asked for clarification on whether it was currently using any of that water right, and she said it wasn’t.

The Spanish Valley Special Service District, which serves the San Juan County portion of Spanish Valley, also holds a surface right on Colorado River water.

I asked Van Horn, Marc Stilson (regional engineer for the Utah Division of Water Rights), and Chuck Williams (city engineer for Moab) about how much water is already going toward irrigation in the valley. Stilson responded.

Irrigation from Mill Creek is tracked via the Mill Creek Distribution System which issues a report each year:…

Last year approximately 3,970 acre-feet of water was delivered to shareholders in the Moab Irrigation Company which also includes Kens Lake. Also Grand Water and Moab City report irrigation use in their water use reports each year for their municipal systems:… &…

Reported uses for Moab and Grand Water last year for irrigation, excluding water delivered to Moab Irrigation Company, would total an additional 130 acre-feet. So the best estimate I could give you for water used in irrigation for 2020 would be 4,100 acre-feet. This value can vary widely depending on the type of water year we have. Last year was below average.

There is some overlap in the reporting between these two tracking systems. We also know that some culinary water is used by residents in the valley for outdoor watering but that number is not being tracked unless Moab or Grand Water is doing so internally. Some portion of the water used for irrigation is returning to the hydrologic system either as return flow to Mill Creek or Pack Creek or as seepage to the groundwater table. That number is not being tracked and it would be difficult to track without some additional study and more monitoring equipment designed and installed specifically for that purpose.

Marc Stilson; April 6, 2021

He added in a separate email: “There is some irrigation from Pack Creek by individual water right holders on the stream but it is not being tracked or reported.”

Coming up

2021 Grand County Democratic Party Convention

Q&A with Grand County Commissioner Kevin Walker and Moab City Council Member Kalen Jones

Filing deadline for two seats on Moab City Council and mayorship

  • Monday, June 7

In other news (outlets)

KUER: Most Of Utah Is Facing An Extreme Drought. But What’s The Best Way To Save Water?

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates 30% of residential water use in the U.S. goes toward lawns and gardens, and that number is even higher in the arid west, where people use more water on their lawns and gardens.

A study by the City of Santa Monica, California’s Sustainability Office found that replacing a “traditional” garden with a “native” garden resulted in over 50,000 gallons of water-savings in one year.