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Old 01-30-2013, 08:10 AM
 
Location: Earth
1,452 posts, read 3,658,119 times
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Locally, I'm wondering how the drought will impact the local farms and farmers markets around here.

A good start toward practical solutions would be the banning of kentucky bluegrass lawns for any new commercial/residential construction.

I'm already planning ways to carve out large sections of our yard and replacing grass with rock or mulch beds to reduce the water bill. Also planted some new trees last Fall that will eventually provide more shade in the yard.

It's been so dry that I've had to water our new foliage every few weeks, and deep-watering the mature trees so they at least have a fighting chance when we have a repeat of last year's hot, dry, windy Spring/Summer/Fall.

This persistent drought is a real bummer.
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Old 01-30-2013, 09:26 AM
 
Location: 5280 above liquid
356 posts, read 513,418 times
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Father in Law runs the canals in Weld County for all the farms near and around Greeley. The canals feed out of Lake Loveland, Boyd and Horseshoe and talked like last year was awful and he never has seen those lakes get as low as they did. Said they would need a massive snowpack this year to make up for the loss of last year and have plenty left for this summer.

Well not looking so good on the snowpack front so I can see the price of many things skyrocketing this summer (crops, feed, beef, etc.)
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Old 01-31-2013, 09:51 AM
 
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I will likely comment further on this when I see the Drought Forecast coming out from the CPC in a few days, but the people that I know concerned with Colorado water management are very glum and alarmed about what this water year is going to look like--probably one of the worst statewide in nearly a century. The situation over much of the food-producing area of the US--the Great Plains, Midwest, and Southern Plains--is nearly as alarming. If this large-scale US drought does not end this year, the ramifications in worst-case agricultural water scenarios for the US this year could be beyond many people's worst nightmares. Skyrocketing food prices, even significant food shortages in the US by as early as 2014 could quickly go from remotely possible, to probable, to likely, to unavoidable if the widespread US drought (including Colorado's) does not break--and soon.
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Old 01-31-2013, 04:45 PM
 
Location: Pueblo - Colorado's Second City
12,173 posts, read 20,952,639 times
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This came across my facebook page so I thought I would post it here.

This is from KRDO 13 Colorado Springs/ Pueblo:



With quite a bit of snow over the last five days, snowpack across Colorado has jumped 13% over a week ago. We are now sitting at 75% of average, and we'd like to see them higher of course, but its better than the 62% of average from a week ago.
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Old 01-31-2013, 08:14 PM
 
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I'm optimistic it could end up find when all is said and done.

One thing our lovely government needs to do is some controlled burns this spring and to start replanting the decimated state and national forests with new trees. That will help with the water situation.
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Old 01-31-2013, 09:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanneroo View Post
I'm optimistic it could end up find when all is said and done.

One thing our lovely government needs to do is some controlled burns this spring and to start replanting the decimated state and national forests with new trees. That will help with the water situation.
That is just wishful thinking. Even if we have three or four times the normal precipitation from now until late spring, that still will not erase the water deficit most of the state now faces. The chances of that kind of precipitation are just about 0%, and I think that the upcoming CPC drought forecast is likely going to show just the opposite--continuing below normal precipitation for the rest of the winter.

An example of just how dire the water situation is can be illustrated by a friend of mine. He has a hay ranch that has been in his family for several generations. He has some of the most senior water rights on what is normally a very good small Colorado river. He normally gets 2 1/2 to 3 full hay cuttings per growing season--the difference usually dependent more on temperature than lack of available water. This summer he fears that he will only have enough water for one 50% hay cutting--in other words, about one-fifth to one-sixth of what he normally produces. He said that would be the worst hay harvest on his place since at least as far back as the 1930's, if not back close to a century.

Also, if present trends continue for the rest of the winter, there won't be anything such as a "controlled burn" this spring and summer. ANY fire that starts will quickly escalate into a difficult, if not impossible to control wildfire. In my entire fairly lengthy life in Colorado, I have NEVER seen two back-to-back years with such low snowpack and soil moisture nearly statewide.

If you define as "end up fine" a situation where sizable chunks of Colorado's dying forests (and the man-made crap nestled into them) are burned up, the state's agricultural economy is decimated (along with a lot of the rest of state economy at least partially dependent upon it), and everyone--even the city-slickers who think that the tap will always run water--have to endure draconinan water restrictions, then--yes--one might say that things will "end up fine."
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:51 AM
 
Location: CO/UT/AZ/NM Catch me if you can!
4,697 posts, read 4,327,280 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanneroo View Post
I'm optimistic it could end up find when all is said and done.

One thing our lovely government needs to do is some controlled burns this spring and to start replanting the decimated state and national forests with new trees. That will help with the water situation.
Pine seedlings that need water are not going to "help with the water situation." That's a bit like the saying "water follows the plow" which helped fuel the dust bowl of the 30's era. Even under normal conditions, forests in the arid Southwest can take a 100 years to even BEGIN to come back. Given the current drought/warming trend, any new seedlings are more likely to die than they are to flourish.

I shudder to think of the effects of a burn either controlled or otherwise on the Uncomphaghre Plateau, for example.

Never mind the current sequester due to arrive March 1st. Where's the money for "our lovely government" to commence controlled burns and reforestration projects? Takes a lot of man power plus cash which aren't there NOW, never mind under the coming austerity measures.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:40 PM
 
Location: Colorado - Oh, yeah!
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Isn't one of the additional concerns a warm Spring that melts what snowpack there is quickly? I seem to recall that was one of the issues last year.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colorado Rambler View Post
Pine seedlings that need water are not going to "help with the water situation." That's a bit like the saying "water follows the plow" which helped fuel the dust bowl of the 30's era. Even under normal conditions, forests in the arid Southwest can take a 100 years to even BEGIN to come back. Given the current drought/warming trend, any new seedlings are more likely to die than they are to flourish.

I shudder to think of the effects of a burn either controlled or otherwise on the Uncomphaghre Plateau, for example.

Never mind the current sequester due to arrive March 1st. Where's the money for "our lovely government" to commence controlled burns and reforestration projects? Takes a lot of man power plus cash which aren't there NOW, never mind under the coming austerity measures.
You don't know a lot about trees then. Read up on trees and how they help in the water cycle.
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Old 02-01-2013, 03:07 PM
 
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wanneroo, you are incorrect about that one--at least with new plantings. New tree plantings, natural or man-made, need additional water to get established. That is one reason that many Colorado forests, once burned, can often take many, many years to regenerate. As a great example, the area down around Cumbres Pass, with which I'm intimately familiar, burned in 1879. Most of the forest there has yet to regenerate--even though this is one located in one of the highest precipitation districts in Colorado.

Once trees are big enough to shade the ground--which both lowers transpiration of water by the soil and, dependent on the forest type, tends to choke out a lot of water-transpiring grasses and forbs--the trees will improve the "water efficiency" of the area. Also, the trees shade the ground, which slows snowmelt and stretches the time for the snowpack to melt. But--all of that takes trees that are bigger.

For years--often many years--after a forest is burned off, water transpiration increases, not decreases. One of the fears of forestry experts is that the ongoing drought and a century-plus of fire suppression will cause large megafires that denude the slopes of trees over large areas. That will increase water transpiration and that--if combined with semi-permanent to permanent higher average temperatures caused by climatic warming--could make a lot of southern Rocky Mountain locales inhospitable to any forest re-growth, thus making the increased transpiration from treeless slopes a permanent condition. The term for that is "desertification," and the threat of it is very real.
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