Drought conditions linger, officials prepare
Local entities remain in stage one drought through winter
The impacts of this year's drought are continuing to be felt across the Western Slope. Officials aren't trying to scare anyone, but they want people to be prepared for the possibility of further drought restrictions as we move into next year.
Most of the Western Slope is still in "severe" to "extreme" drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. This year's average monsoon season did help lessen the drought impact to some extent, but it still does exist and will until we can catch up on snowpack. Most officials are hoping that happens this winter.
"The weather outlook for this year is very uncertain," said Hannah Holm, Coordinator for the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University. "We just don't know if it's going to be a good year, a bad year, or another terrible year."
She says this year could be a preview of many in the future as a growing population puts a strain on the available supply.
"Consumption is just going up and up and up," Holm explained. "A couple of years ago, we actually passed where the amount of water that we're consuming, all the consumers in the Colorado basin is actually more than the amount of water flowing into the basin and we've been able to get by with that because of some big reservoirs that we have in our system."
Water utilities across the Grand Valley implemented stage one drought restrictions this summer, which called for voluntary water conservation. But usage actually increased, mostly due to the hot weather.
"People get it in their mind that they need to use it now while they can because the supply is going to be gone. Well, that's counter to what we're trying to do,” said David Reinertsen of Clifton Water. “ We're trying to get people to not use as much.”
And while high reservoir levels kept local irrigation ditches full this year, there could be trouble down the road. That’s why local services like Clifton Water are trying to make sure people stay informed.
"We're going to remain in a stage one drought scenario through the winter which keeps us in the public eye with regards to ongoing education, reporting of the water conditions that we're receiving this winter, specifically snow pack results," Reinertsen said.
If we don’t relief in the way of snowpack this winter, stage two restrictions may be needed.
"Stage two calls for more of mandatory reductions. Mandatory reductions would be actual prohibitions of certain types of watering, watering restrictions, odd-even watering schedules,” Reinertsen said, adding that water bills would also likely increase.
So, they’re asking you to try and help out by conserving water when you can and staying informed so next year and those after, we have enough water to go around
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