When you think about it, skiers and gardeners have a lot in common. Skiers depend on the mountain snows for good recreation. And gardeners depend on the annual snowpack to water their gardens and yards during the growing season. We thank the ALCC for this tip of the week.
Per the reports, skiing isn’t so great right now and neither is the forecast for the snowpack that makes water plentiful for summer gardening. The Denver Post recently cited that the first manual check of Colorado’s snowpack showed only 73 percent of normal – and not one year during the last 30 that started this far below average, was there a return to normal snowpack by the start of spring.
Others contend it’s still too early to make the call and they point out positive readings for some of the river basins. The Arkansas River Basin is 89 percent of normal, for example.
So where does that leave us? Probably somewhere between moderately concerned and cautiously optimistic. Here’s why.
Snowpack conditions may look like one thing and end up as something else. Do you remember the severe drought of 2002? “That year didn’t get off to a bad start, but it had a wretched finish,” says state climatologist Nolan Doesken. The summer of 2002 was a pivotal one for water providers, the landscape industry and other industries that rely on water for their livelihood.
It’s been 10 years since that serious drought. Many will say we’re due for another one. It may not be this year, but some year you can count on it happening because the cycles of nature continue.
What will be different next time around? Knowledge.
In the last 10 years, the ability to water landscapes while applying much less of it has improved exponentially through applied technology, both mechanical and electronic.
Thanks to the work of horticulturists at CSU, Denver Botanic Gardens and the green industry, we now have a rich and colorful assortment of plants that require little water.
And there’s also commitment from landscape designers and contractors to help their clients put the equivalent of double-pane windows and energy-efficient appliances in their landscapes. It’s called sustainable landscaping and it’s what more and more people want.
For Coloradoans who always live under threat of drought, conserving water is just the smart thing to do. And there’s no better place to start than in our own back yards.