Dampness on the drought | VailDaily.com

Dampness on the drought

Don Rogers

Still, 40 days and 40 nights of the same may not hurt, but even that would not pull us out of our drought, at least not for long. And storms for the rest of summer are pretty unlikely at this point.

No, winter’s the thing. Snowpack is what counts in the longer run. How soon it comes back, whether it comes back, is anyone’s guess. The forecasters can read the bars, the satellite picture, the warming mid-Pacific water temperatures and declare that El Nino is right around the corner. They just can’t say for sure whether it’s going to snow in sufficient quantities to break the drought, never mind the powder day outlook.

Meantime, we’ll see whether the tighter restrictions on watering days in the mid- to upvalley will go somewhat better than prompting a 14 percent increase in water use instead of the intended 30 percent decrease. Hint: Restricting the days one can open the faucet has the unfortunate side effect of encouraging folks to pour out more water while they can. A limit on the amount of water might be a lot more effective.

An encouraging sign, besides a bit of rain, is residents beginning to talk as if green is a sinful thing under the present circumstances. Gorgeous verdant lawns are as likely to attract ridicule as praise. Brown shows the occupant is committed to community responsibility, being a good citizen.

The landscapers, nurseries and other businesses directly dependent on flowing water are having a tough time. Employees are out of work and contracts have to go unfilled. This is tough on everyone, as the economic ripples run through the valley, and of course toughest on the folks who found themselves laid off instead at the peak of the normal summer work cycle.

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Most of the golf courses have senior water rights and can run those sprinklers 24 hours a day if they so choose. So theirs is a budding PR problem with the surrounding community ordered to cut back. The smart ones, such as the Vail Golf Course, will show genuine diligence about water savings.

Snowmaking – as people are beginning to ask about more often – is safe this year. Vail Resorts, ever shrewd about the future, has spent millions on water rights and storage capacity. Thanks primarily to the Eagle Park reservoir near the old Climax mine, the ski company will be able to make plenty of snow at Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek – and contribute a little to the all-important snowpack for next year.

And, as part of their permit for making snow, the company must maintain the state’s “in-stream” flow level, which wouldn’t be close without the snowmaking use. The real question is this: What if this continues next year? What we are experiencing is a tiny inconvenience by comparison.


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