Spring Newsletter 2021
WATCHFUL OF WATER USE
Ah…..sunshine, budding trees and greening grass! You’re not alone if your observation is that – we hardly had a winter and this is all happening way too early in the Upper Gunnison basin. Snowfall was pretty sparse, and our snowpack never really got much above 80 percent of average. And, I’m having a hard time recalling any really frigid temperatures this winter. With extremely dry soil conditions persisting, much of the spring runoff will end up going to fill our dry soil profile. Without some healthy and frequent spring and summer rains, our Gunnison water supply forecast predicts streamflow of only 41 to 72 percent of average for the summer and inflow into Blue Mesa Reservoir estimated at 68 percent of average. Therefore, the District has embarked on an aggressive drought outreach campaign to encourage our residents and visitors alike to enjoy our rivers, streams and reservoirs, but also to be mindful of their water use.
Very soon, you will start seeing yard signs, posters in restaurants, stickers, reusable shopping bags and water bottles popping up throughout our community with the message “Water. It doesn’t grow on trees.” This clever slogan was selected from a contest the District held earlier this year (see the Contest Winners article). It is our hope that this ironic and quirky reminder can help us all be more in-tune with our responsibility to conserve and protect our limited water supplies.
The District’s drought marketing outreach will also encourage businesses, residents and visitors to be mindful of their outdoor and indoor water use. Some conservation measures are obvious and really easy. For example, visitors can advise hotel housekeeping that they don’t need their towels and sheets to be washed daily. When enjoying our wonderful local restaurants, advise your waiter that you don’t need a refill of your water glass unless you request it. Don’t let your faucet run when brushing your teeth or shaving and take shorter showers.
With regard to outdoor water use, did you know that Colorado State University Extension studies have shown that on average Gunnison Basin and Grand Valley residents over-water their lawns by 40 percent? If you have an automated sprinkler system, ‘don’t just set it and forget it’. Pay attention to local precipitation events and daytime temperatures to determine your outdoor watering needs and water during the coolest times of the day. If you use a garden hose, use your phone alarm app to remind you to move your water. As you start to plan for your gardens, flower beds, and even grass, remember we are in a severe drought and our future will most definitely include on-going drought, so plan effectively.
When in the backcountry, respect any local fire bans, use designated fire rings, and do NOT leave your fires unattended. Finally, pollution from human waste and trash can have a significant impact on our watershed health so remember to “pack it in and pack it out”.
If everyone commits to doing their part, we can weather this dry weather!
Water. It doesn’t grow on trees! So Be An Upper Gunnison Basin Water Hero!
Beverly Richards, UGRWCD Water Resource Specialist As spring runoff begins, water managers on the Western Slope turn to drought predictions for the season and well