From The Summit Daily (Deepan Dutta):
In the Colorado mountains, climate change is causing rising temperatures, shorter winters and lower snowpacks, leading to growing prospects of a statewide drought this summer. Water waste compounds the problem, as the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that household leaks alone waste 1 trillion gallons of water nationwide every year. As part of the effort to promote water conservation, the EPA and High Country Conservation Center are asking homeowners to hunt for household leaks during the 10th annual Fix a Leak Week.
While the Blue River Basin is relatively robust this season, the news isn’t good across the rest of the state. According to a February report from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, 71 percent of the state is in some level of drought classification. Statewide precipitation from snowfall is at 70 percent of average, and long-term forecasts indicate the state will see a warmer, drier spring than normal.
“This could be the new normal,” said Colorado River District spokesman Jim Pokrandt. “Colorado’s in our 17th year of sustained, below-average snowpack, and a lot of skiers have already noticed it as there aren’t as many powder days. This year certainly illustrates the fact that drought is in our face.”
While humans cannot directly control the climate (yet), there are easily manageable ways to save water in our homes. The EPA says that individual households may waste up to 10,000 gallons a year because of leaks. Plugging those leaks is a simple, but effective, way to save a lot of water and money…
In its 10th year, Fix a Leak Week runs from March 19-25. The aim of the campaign is to get homeowners to think of ways they can promote water conservation at home, either by mending leaks or replacing old fixtures…
Pokrandt suggested other ways homeowners may save water, including installing low-flow faucets and showerheads as well as inspecting landscape irrigation systems for leaks. Better yet, he said, is to use landscaping that is more appropriate for the local environment.
“A lot of us moved from the East, where they get 40 or so inches of rain, and that makes them think they should have fence-to-fence bluegrass carpeting out here, too,” he said. “You should have regionally appropriate landscaping, and not try not to make your place look like it’s in Charlotte, North Carolina.”
For more information about Fix a Leak Week and ways to conserve water at home, visit the EPA’s website at EPA.gov/watersense/fix-leak-week.
From The Rocky Mountain Collegian (Ty Betts):
“We’re in a drought and we’ve been in a drought for 18 years,” [Luke] Runyon said. “It’s not getting better, and there is more and more reason to think that this is the new normal.”
2018 in particular is shaping up to be an extremely low year for snowpack, Runyon said, which means less water will be available to the seven U.S. states and Mexico who all pull from the Colorado River. Runyon said 2002 was the driest year ever recorded for the Colorado River basin, and this year is only slightly above those levels.
Research from the Natural Resource Conservation Service shows that Colorado is only at 66 percent of average snowpack for 2018.
“People say we could maybe make (snowfall) up in months like April and May but at this point, it would take some pretty crazy snowstorms to make up that deficit,” Runyon said.