Water Wars and Woes?

A week or so ago I was talking to a colleague about climate change and drought. I said that one of my experiences with drought and how poorly the climate scientists model drought and how long it takes to recover from drought I had witnessed first hand in Colorado. I distinctly recall on one of my many happy cycling trips there cycling around a reservoir and being told that, due to drought, the reservoir would need something like 70 or more years to fill to capacity.

Well, sure enough, a year or two later, it was back up to capacity due to record snows in the region. This same thing is going on in Texas right now. Drought that was thought to be as severe as the dust bowl was literally wiped out in one month. Yes, it was one horrific month of flooding, but it was one month, and more rain is coming. So unfortunately, climate modeling is just that, yet–modeling.

A whole different sort of craziness was brought to my attention by an article in the New York Times last week. It said that it was illegal to have rain barrels in Colorado. Whoa!

You can read the article for yourself at the above link but basically the gist is that water rights are carefully deeded and controlled and that every drop is owned. Therefore, even the raindrops that fall on your roof are not your own and therefore may not be captured to water whatever you want on your own property–plants, vegetables or in one case, greenhouse plants.

Obviously this is a totally foreign concept to those of us back East. The only reason I even bring it up is to perhaps make some of my eastern readers–the same ones whose lawn sprinklers are still watering away merrily in the rain all the time–aware of what our western neighbors face. Perhaps it really isn’t too much trouble to get a rain sensor after all, is it? Please?

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2 thoughts on “Water Wars and Woes?

  1. It’s true. I have a relative in California who would probably kill for the unrestricted water usage we in the northeast enjoy. Water is especially cheap here because we’re literally sitting on top of an aquifer; unlike NYC, which has to bring its water down from “upstate”, the concept of shortages and restrictions is foreign to people here. Rain sensors are mandatory for new sprinkler installations but there are plenty of older systems around, from the 1970s and 1980s. My current place has IGS (inground sprinkler system) but I do not use it because it uses so much more than even a simple hose setup. I’m giving serious thought to my next garden being as close to xeriscaping as possible; at the very least, to use plants that can handily survive only on whatever water Mother Nature sees fit to serve up.

  2. I spent parts of 15 summers in Colorado which is where I really learned about water rationing, xeric gardening and how our complete disregard for water here in the East was totally ridiculous. That’s how I developed my own “tough love” approach for my own gardens (all that traveling, particularly at prime garden time, will also foist a bit of that upon you, of course ). While I only go there in the winter now, I still remember the lessons. I wish rain sensors were mandatory here!

    Thanks for sharing that!

    Karla

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