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UPEC Board Member Profile – Ann O’Connell

upec board member profile ann oconnell
  • October 17, 2023

Why I joined UPEC – 
The Utah Population and Environment Council (UPEC) was founded a quarter century ago as an unintended consequence of the founding of Envision Utah.

One exercise that has remained in my memory was to place cardboard rectangles representing population growth in the empty spaces remaining in the Salt Lake Valley. At my table, the discussion included a story from a Second World War veteran who recalled asking an Italian why all the housing in a rural area were perched so awkwardly in the hillsides. The response was: “You do not build houses on your prime farmland.”  Therefore, we then proceeded to look at possible locations on the benches and foothills only to be reminded by a participant who understood the geology of the Wasatch Front’s water supply that: “You do not build houses on the recharge areas for your valley aquifers.”

Unfortunately, we did not have any other spaces to consider. No one had a solution except Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini. As our time ran out, she announced: “We do not want all these people,” and swept all the rectangles to the floor.

I should note that I can no longer buy onions from Magna (prime valley farmland), or locally grown pecans (Orchards formerly thrived on our benches.) at the Downtown Farmers Market. I also know that our aquifers, although probably well-managed, are not at full capacity and some are polluted beyond use.

So, yes continued population growth has grave consequences for the earth’s environment and society as a whole. 

Ann O’Connell | UPEC

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