Is there really a drought? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 08-10-2004   #1
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 16
Is there really a drought?

Can anyone point me towards real evidence that there is a drought , other than man made lakes being drawn down?Snowpacks are said to be down, but are still within reason in my opinion and whose doing the measuring ? Denver Water? Seems to me that it's people who are wanting to dam and divert it and ultimately sell it are creating a psychological shortage so that politically the climate will be right for these type of projects. I now agree after years of skeptecism that Global Warming maybe a real thing, (although we are coming out of an ice age... ), I have to wonder , what is real? Any experts out there?

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Old 08-10-2004   #2
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 3
Some more info

Currently Denver reservoirs are approximately at 85% of there normal capacity, well beyond what was anticipated. So although snow pack was down an incredibly wet spring and summer have yeilded some much needed rain at least for the front range. Higher elevation also received large amounts of precip that have increased levels in both Dillon and Green Mtn. Unfortunately, we are still in a drought as far as history tells, hence the water restrictions. We have Denver Water to thank for all the increased rates to offset lost revenue from years past. It is so nice they ask us to conserve water and then charge the hell out us for the small amount they delagated. Just my little offering!

Don't worry next years snow pack is going to be incredible! I know this how, cause I asked Zoltar. Or at least lets hope so!!!!!

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Old 08-10-2004   #3
BV, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 55
Its all realitive. I think the term drought was coined because our precieved needs may not be getting met. Our forests, climate, and environment are very dynamic in nature. Us stupid humans want things to be static. One year or even a series of dry years is a normal thing. but we create a word that carries a negative connotation with it because, we have to addapt to it, a dryer period that is. So before we showed up, there were no dams or resovoirs. Fire had the largest role in managing our forests and range lands. In most forested areas the carrying capacity of the land has been surpassed because fires no longer control the thinning proccess. Most of the species out here are very "drought" tollerent. Look at the 5000 year old bristle cone pine trees just out side of fairplay. Just like the way disease runs wild through overpopulated developing world cities, nature will find a way to thin the forest. So pine beetle and dwarf mistletoe has steped in thin the forests. People mistakedly blame the drought for the massive die off of trees and devistating fires. It is the extinguishment of natural caused fires that causes these huge fires and disease problems.
I'm not saying that we should not be here, but we have thrown off the ballance of nature by desiring to have large green lawns in an arid environment. Lewis and Clark reported to congress that West of the Missippi was uncapable of supporting agriculture. A good point to be made, but dont take it too literaly.
Sorry, I'm rambling on a soapbox, but I could go on and on.
In my mind we are experiencing a fluxuation in climatic paterns. If you put too many flowers in the flower box, or you never pull the weeds, and forget to water it for a few days, you might run into problems.

But thats just my take.
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Old 08-10-2004   #4
Ed Hansen's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 331
Drought is a GOOD thing.

Did anyone else read the the APRIL 2004 BACKPACKER magazine?

The cover story was Glen Canyon Reborn: Paradise Found. About 15 pages of print, pictures and maps to re-born canyons for hiking and camping.

Here are some exerps, but check it out at the library if you don't already subscribe.


-----The Southwest in now 4 years inot a drought that has more than halved Lake Powell, dropping water levels a record 100 feet.
-----Some Climatoligists think the area might be entering a decades- long "mega-drought".
-----At Northern Arizona University, hydrologists have developed a computer model that predicts that the reservoir's remaining water will dry up with only 10 years of medium-scale drought. If severe drought continues, like the current dry spell that's halved the reservoir in just 4 years, the end could come much sooner.
-----The real world implications of te drought's effects are on full display at tCathedral in the Desert, one of Glen Canyon's most iconic features. Though the bottom of the 1-acre alcove lies under 60 feet of water, it's arching redrock walls are visible for the first time in 35 years.
-----Dams were the Prozac of the Great Depression. The extensive environmental damage we caused got lost in the symbolism. But Lake Powell is lower now than anybod ever imagined, and it provides a new reality about what is possible.
-----...It's hard to imagine that the fate of Glen Canyon will be decided by polititians or environmentalists. What REALLY matters is whether or not it rains, and there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it.


The article give maps and directions to a bunch of now dry side canyons, gorges and trails.

Long live the drought! Water your lawns! Wash your cars! Leave the water running when you brush your teeth! Support yourt local golf course (most are excluded from any/most water use restrictions)!


"So in two seconds, away we went, a sliding down the river, and it did seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river and nobody to bother us." -Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
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Old 08-10-2004   #5
Join Date: Oct 2003
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One word...Tamarisk

Atop of all of the aforementioned reasons for our drought (and adding the Golden PD watering their rose garden at 2 in the afternoon), the non-native Tamarisk plant has done wonders to lower our available water supply. It can be found in just about every drainage in Colorado and Utah growing along the banks of streams & rivers. It was introduced originally to help with erosion control but has grown unabated and now reduces the ability of native species to thrive in their given environments. In places such as Westwater, Grays & Deso, The Grand Canyon, & even the South Platte, seasoned river runners will have noticed it's growth & the subsequent reduction of camping space along the banks of the rivers over the years. A great bonus about the Tamarisk plant is that 1 plant consumes up to 300 gallons (NOT a typo) of water a day and can release up to 1/2 a million spores for reproduction. I don't know what that works out to in lost water, but next time you're out on the river take as look along the banks and you'll notice just how many of these things there are. It's somewhat staggering that something hasn't been done or said about these plants since they are consuming so much of our water supply. (1 plant = 110,000 gallons a year)

Here's a link to a government article about the plant.

It is so nice they ask us to conserve water and then charge the hell out us for the small amount they delagated. Just my little offering!
.....I really appreciated that announcement last week. 'good job folks, you've really cut back your water usage & helped out everyone as a whole. As a way of saying thanks we now are going to charge you more since you've done such a good job that we can't operate in the black' F-ers!
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Old 08-10-2004   #6
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 89
If you look at how incredibly inefficient farmers use water, then we are absolutely NOT in a drought.

Farmers just flood the field with water--probably wasting 50%. Their diversion ditches loose another 50% of the water. They grow moisture intensive, low yield crops.

With agricultural water so cheap and being wasted so much, we can't be in a drought. When farmers are being forced to change how they use water, or perhaps give up farming desert, then we are in a drought.

Agriculture uses 90% of the water in the state. Urban areas use 10%.
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Old 08-10-2004   #7
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 174
300 gal/day = 0.00046417 cfs

not a huge deal with only one plant, but becomes significant when you multiply by the millions of plants that are out there.
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Old 08-10-2004   #8
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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As for farmers being wasteful, one thing that you should consider is that the water actually gets recycled many times en route to being the corn you'll eat (or the cow you'll eat will eat) or whatever is grown with it. From irrigation ditches and fields the water that's not consumed percolates back into the aquifer where it brings aquifer levels up (compared to pre-settlement times), then the water is pumped from wells, applied to fields, some is consumed, the rest percolates back to the aquifer and is pumped and used again and again. The part that's consumed and evaporates is called the crop's "consumptive use" and is typically a fraction of what's actually applied to the crops.

Eventually a lot of the water gets back to the river via the aquifer as "return flow" throughout the year. There's evidence that before the massive irrigation systems were built, rivers like the South Platte only flowed for part of the year. Nowdays the return flow keeps the river flowing year round. Interestingly, before settlement, its said that there were very few cottonwoods along the South Platte and other Western rivers (buffalo grazed them) and aquifer water levels were much lower in areas now irrigated. A large cottonwood tree can consume a gallon every minute. For better or worse we've dramatically changed the hydrologic system by building the West's huge plumbing system and I wouldn't expect to see a return to natural conditions anytime soon.

Oh, yeah - even though we've had some good rains this summer, we're still in a drought.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 08-11-2004   #9
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 120
Good points Andy. I've been studying up on the Clean Water Act lately, and last night was reading something that pointed out that large scale use of water resources is good in a way, b/c it necessitates some degree of protection of water quality. It's also a good point that the water doesn't "go away" it just gets re-routed from its natural course, but it turns up again somewhere! Not to say agriculture or other development as we currently do it is a good thing, just that its all about what we as a society decide is the best use of a limited resource.

One thing I'd like to see kayakers do is support water quality protection by buying organic and minimizing personal water use.
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Old 08-11-2004   #10
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 480
Hell Claire, everyone knows we don't take showers. How much more water can we save?
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