Our View: If you squint just right, the Vail Valley’s drought has a couple of positives (editorial)
We can all agree there’s been little good news from this year’s drought.
The haze from the wildfires burning across the Rocky Mountain West is the most obvious effect. But in a season of reduced water supplies and general anxiety over virtually every spark, there are a couple of glimmers of good news.
This year’s dry weather has seen a drastic reduction in mosquito populations, particularly in Gypsum. There are years when the blood-sucking, disease-carrying vampires of the insect world are numerous enough downvalley that some residents fear a swarm might be able to carry off a small dog.
This year, residents can actually enjoy their backyards and patios without help from tiki torches, citronella candles or other devices.
That’s been nice.
It’s also been nice to have some extra water releases from local reservoirs. Again, the reason for those releases isn’t good. But maintaining streamflows for aquatic life and satisfying senior calls on water rights from downstream users has put more water in local rivers for rafting or fishing.
Still, we’re in pretty dire straits when it comes to water. From Green Mountain to Blue Mesa and everywhere between, the state’s reservoirs have countless acres of shoreline that haven’t been exposed in recent memory.
The good news is that the state’s reservoirs still hold enough water to meet demand — for the time being.
But that news rings hollow in the Vail Valley, where much of the upper valley’s water supply relies on streams that aren’t fed by reservoirs.
The only answer is snow, and plenty of it, during the coming winter.
Without a year of at least normal snowfall, next summer could be worse than this one.
It’s always folly to rely on long-range forecasts. That said, there’s some hope in the forecast for the next 90 days.
According to the folks at www.open snow.com, forecasters at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration believe December, January and February could bring lower-than-normal temperatures and the prospect of higher-than-normal snowfall.
That’s better than throwing a dart at a snowfall chart, but not much. And June’s long-range forecasts for monsoonal rains certainly didn’t pan out.
So let’s hold out hope. Another winter like the past one might have people actually missing the mosquitoes next year.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Krista Driscoll, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart and Business Editor Scott Miller.