This is going to be the third consecutive year of drought in the West and we are feeling an impact. The water source in Colorado’s Front Range is in short supply. 100 percent of the state is experiencing some level of drought, snowpack is at 70 percent of the long-term average and just 91 percent of last year’s total. Local experts say the water situation is worse than 2002 when Colorado experienced severe drought conditions and widespread mandatory outdoor water restrictions. Most of Colorado is in a stage two drought meaning severe restrictions on outdoor water use. Stage three drought would mean eliminating all landscape water use. This impacts the rest of the West because water from the Colorado river is used widely in seven western states.
Help is not on the way. The latest estimates from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) latest three-month drought outlook, which the agency released in mid April shows the drought lengthening. It is forecast the drought will expand into northern California, Oregon and Washington. Texas, where drought has been an issue since 2011 will also continue to see expansion.
Drought Impact on Farmers
Reading about California farmers last week I was surprised to see they are only going to receive 20% of their allocation this year. When I first read it I thought 20% reduction, but further reading showed the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced the past couple of months of dry weather prompted a decrease in water allocations to contractors south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta to 20% of the contracted supply.
During last year’s growing season the drought negatively impacted crops and the price increases at the grocery store were large. As I pointed out in last summer’s post, “How You Are Paying for the Drought!” This year with the issues of the past year’s lack of water we are at a high risk for farmers to abandon crops this year and ranchers to cull herds. This will cause spikes in food prices for all of us at the grocery store.
Employment ripple effect
California alone could lose 100,000 farm jobs to the drought. Agricultural job losses are also happening in six other western states and Texas. When these jobs go away the communities servicing our farms suffer. Higher unemployment hurts housing and the spiral continues on and on. In some places in the west once a week watering of landscape is being regulated. Imagine what could happen to home prices in our neighborhoods if we can only water our landscapes once a week. We can do something about this drought and the droughts to come. Here are 100 ways you can save water daily and lessen the impact the drought has on your community.