What is drought?
Last month we talked about ways to conserve water in your landscaping. It’s an unfortunate coincidence that since then, it’s been reported that all of Pueblo County is currently in a drought and the majority of it is considered to be ‘severe to extreme.’ But what does that mean, exactly?
Drought refers to a natural phenomenon that develops over time and can be caused by one or more of the following:
Wind patterns that move moisture through the atmosphere can cause a place to not receive its normal amount of rain or snow over a long period of time (think La Nina or El Nino)
Places upstream are not receiving enough precipitation which affects those living along rivers
Just a little over a tablespoon of precipitation was recorded in Pueblo over the last 90 days. Less than 2% of Pueblo’s normal precipitation accumulated over the last 30 days, which is why most of the county is now considered to be in an ‘extreme drought’.
What you can do
Many organizations work together throughout the United States to monitor and prepare for drought. It is considered a natural disaster, much like tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes. The difference is those things happen quickly. A similar trait among them is that alerts can be made for people to protect themselves against impending events - even droughts. The primary way of combatting drought is through mitigation, which we can all take part in!
The National Drought Mitigation Center suggests a few ways to contribute to the mitigation of droughts:
1. Be more mindful of how much water you are wasting and make the effort to change those habits. This week the Pueblo Zoo education department put together some numbers.
If you brush your teeth for two minutes and leave the faucet running the entire time:
1.5 quarts/30 seconds = 3 quarts every minute
1.5 gallons/2 minutes twice a day = 3 gallons per person per day
1095 gallons of water times approximately 5,900,000 people in CO =
6,460,500,000 gallons of water wasted during tooth brushing per year in the state of CO.
If you only used 2 cups of water a day while brushing teeth then...
730 cups would be used over the course of a year, equivalent to 46 gallons per year per person times those 5,900,000 people living in CO = 271,400,000 gallons per year.
That is a difference of 6,189,100,000 per year. Roughly equivalent to 9377 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water!!!
2. Use devices that decrease the flow of water. Installing shower heads and low-flow toilets. Using drip irrigation instead of sprinkler systems. Replacing water-using appliances with newer, more efficient ones. These are all things to consider when home repairs or renovations are necessary.
3. Using plants that naturally thrive in your landscaping AKA xeriscaping.
Why should I participate in drought mitigation?
The environment we live in doesn’t just refer to the natural spaces we use and enjoy. It also refers to our environment of community and commerce. Drought affects people. The income generated by the Arkansas River and Lake Pueblo recreational opportunities can be adversely affected by drought. Farmers and agricultural workers in our region are certainly at risk of losing income, possibly land, should drought not be mitigated. The ‘drought dominoes’ can continue to fall and affect everyone including you and your family. All these reasons and many more are why water conservationists in our region are asking you to join them in conserving water in our community!
For more information, visit any of the links below or within the article. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your suggestions and resources for mitigating droughts and conserving water!