Water, water, yes, everywhere this winter. We welcomed and dodged raindrops falling from October 2018 through March 2019 with possibly more to come. We are officially out of a drought. A profusion of desert flowers are blossoming.
It is a whirl-around from the drought patterns we followed, educating ourselves about how to use less of our precious resource in our daily life. We learned to choose water saving devices on home appliances, opted for drought tolerant plantings and alternate watering days, and accepted the fact that sea water could be recycled as “fresh” through desalination. Recently though, our attention turned to banks of sand bags and the dark side of the force of fresh water with the resulting oversaturated earth. We have been troubleshooting the dangers of flooding, debris flow, sinkholes, uprooted trees, crumbling cliffs at our beach, undercut edges at Crest Canyon, the damp, and the mold. Plus, the possibility of water from the sea inching up year by year.
Before worrying further about riparian rifts, understand that the winter waters fall is not permanent. The climate is a’changing. The threat of wildfires still rages because a wet winter or two does not tamp down our warming weather days that will dry out our forest and scrub land and cut our water flow to a trickle. We need to heed our past lessons and prepare for what is ahead.
The major marker within the complex route of our water delivery system is the level of Lake Mead. An agreement among seven Colorado River Basin states set a specific measurement at the lake as a standard to regulate each state’s water use. A mere five feet stands between the present acceptable level and crisis. A short term position, the Drought Contingency Plan, if approved, could help stabilize the situation. If not, a drop of those five feet in the level of Lake Mead below the agreed upon mark will have really nasty consequences for us: less water and less hydro electricity.
The analysis on page 3, Water Words, by Celeste Cantu Stampfl presents a clear picture of our present and our future.
The Sandpiper Editorial Board