#Colorado declares #drought emergency for Western Slope — The #Cortez Journal

Colorado Drought Monitor map June 29, 2021.

From The Durango Herald (Shannon Mullane) via The Cortez Journal:

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared a drought emergency Wednesday for La Plata County and 20 other counties on the Western Slope.

The declaration applies to counties experiencing severe, extreme or exceptional drought conditions, including the five-county region in Southwest Colorado. In response, Polis directed several state task forces to monitor the area and gather input about urgent, unmet needs…

The most recent water year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, was the 12th warmest on record in Colorado since 1895 and saw record-breaking fires around the state. It was the third driest water year, trailing 2002, the driest year, and 2018, the second driest year, according to the conservation board…

The Drought Response Plan and supporting task forces will remain activated, assessing conditions and recommending mitigation measures, until statewide conditions significantly improve, according to the conservation board…

Annual precipitation in Colorado averages 17 inches statewide, and its semi-arid climate means water availability is a consistent concern, according to the conservation board website.

Severe, widespread, multi-year droughts – like the one affecting the Western Slope – are less common.

Since 1893, Colorado has experienced six droughts that are widely considered “severe.” These droughts affected most of the state, involved record-breaking dry spells and/or lasted for multiple years.

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