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April 11, 2005

"Drought" Over

Well, yes, that drought, too. But, this is what I had in mind.

Naturally, we're still getting the warnings from the usual scolds that the reservoirs aren't full, and that the Platte snowpack is below normal. All this is true, and we'll still have to put up with watering restrictions this year.

What bothers me is terminology. "Drought" is a meteorological condition. "Shortage" is an economic one. The "drought" is, in fact over, as has been for some time. The water shortage is likely to go on, as it has for the last, oh, 150 years or so.

Look, almost the entire state's snowpack is back over 100%. You don't go from below-normal to above-normal without above-normal snowfall. In business terms, "drought" is an income-statement problem, while the "shortage" is on the balance-sheet.

The water managers are essentially accountants in this matter, and they have a healthy accounting conservatism. But use of the word "drought" to mean a 5-year period, in which exactly one year's precip fell below average is political. It's intended to scare people, and to stampede them into accepting permanent and unnecessary changes in lifestyle, when a few well-placed water projects could solve the problem for generations. In fact, by referring to the "5-year drought" or "ongoing drought," these reactionaries take water projects off the table altogether, since you can't really save what's not coming down in the first place.

Look, Coloradoans have done some silly things with our water. We're not living inside Bio-Sphere II, and we can't just plop down maples and crabapples and Kentucky blue-grass and think it's not going to cost anything. I've xeriscaped a portion of the front yard where the grass was struggling (naturally, now it's invited itself in) and any re-seeding has been with fescue. The washing machine is a front-loader, which uses less water. The actual cost of water is still pretty low, as a portion of the monthly budget, lower than the cable bill, for instance.

Still, you can only achieve so much by savings; fixing old reservoirs and even building a few new ones is just common sense. Calling a non-drought a drought is just dishonest. It's typical of the enviro-left that they can't win without these distortions. It's also typical that there's plenty of middle ground they don't care to explore.

Posted by joshuasharf at April 11, 2005 06:42 AM | TrackBack

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