How Water In The West Impacts Everyone

U.S. Drought Monitor map from April 23, 2013 showing western impact. Drought monitor showing the severity of the drought.

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.


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Richard Restuccia

Richard Restuccia is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. Richard is a spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees. Currently he serves on the Irrigation Association’s Board of Directors. As a board member, Richard serves in a variety of capacities, including government/public affairs. He is the liaison between the board and its marketing committee on the best ways to promote water efficiency and educate industry professionals on new technologies, products and services. Richard is also a regular contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine.


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  1. Wednesday, 9:10 palmettoprop

    RT @ValleyCrest: How Water In The West Impacts Everyone: This is going to be the … #watermanagement

  2. Wednesday, 1:41 LiteracyandTech

    This is serious business. How do we get every individual to care about making a difference? I’m posting this on a hallway bulletin board, just in case one of the hundreds of students/teachers/administrators/etc. who walk by the board will read even part of this essential post.

  3. Thursday, 6:41 Brian Donahue

    Richard, I have enjoyed your leading comments and discussions. I am thankful for someone of your position and stature is feeling the pain of the growers and farmers. People will not understand the seriousness of these issues until they can no longer afford their food supply or there is no food supply to purchase. I know you have bigger fish to fry than what I am doing in Colorado, but I honestly believe I am developing substantial evidence of water savings, conservation and maximizing to the levels of 20-30% as well as increasing natural moisture reserves in the soils to at least 1,000,000 gallons in 8 acres of NEW moisture. I would enjoy sharing these things with you. I have some things on line by email and could develop a packet of testing, photos, and R&D research from patent and USDA scientists to help you see what the full potential is. I hope to hear from you.

    Sincerely Thanks, Brian Donahue 303-775-3066 (C)

    • Friday, 9:11 Richard

      Brain thanks for your comments. 20% -30% is awesome and if we could get more people focussed on the numbers we would not be having this problem now. I will be in contact to learn more.

  4. Friday, 9:12 Richard

    Thanks for posting the information. Its a great start to get more people to care about water. Let me know if you purchased the moisture meter!

  5. […] We’ve all seen it—the brown, scraggly patches that were once lush, green grass. With the drought now almost four years into its fury, that sight is becoming all too common and if current projections are correct, there isn’t much relief in sight for much of the western United States. […]

  6. Friday, 12:17 Turf Conversion & Smart Water Management in Times of Drought | A Gardener's Thoughts & Fancies

    […] We’ve all seen it—the brown, scraggly patches that were once lush, green grass. With the drought now almost four years into its fury, that sight is becoming all too common and if current projections are correct, there isn’t much relief in sight for much of the western United States. […]

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