Out of drought? Not so fast!

A federal report says Colorado is no longer in drought, but that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods from a long-term water supply standpoint.

By Steve Snyder

Woo hoo! The drought is over! Let’s open the tap and let the water flow!

After all, a recent federal report shows that nearly all of Colorado is free from any type of drought designation. We are drought-free for the first time since 2009. It’s time to celebrate, right?

This U.S. Drought Monitor map shows nearly all of Colorado no longer carries a drought designation.

This U.S. Drought Monitor map shows nearly all of Colorado no longer carries a drought designation.

If you’ve lived in Colorado for any length of time, you know better. In our semi-arid climate, the next drought is always lurking right around the corner.

“Our customers have truly embraced the concept of water conservation, particularly during droughts,” said Denver Water CEO and Manager Jim Lochhead. “Now it’s about taking that next step to use every drop of water efficiently, no matter the weather conditions.”

It’s also important to remember that Colorado is tied to other Western states in terms of water use. And one look at the same drought report shows that much of California and Nevada are still classified in the highest category of drought.

“Denver Water relies on the Colorado River for about 50 percent our water supply,” said Lochhead. “The Colorado River Basin remains locked in one of the worst droughts in its history. Our state and our customers are still at risk to possible impacts from this ongoing crisis.”

With that in mind, Denver Water is actively involved in a unique partnership with other water providers in the Colorado River basin looking for ways to reduce demand on the river’s waters.

“This issue on the Colorado is like a slow-moving train heading right at us,” Lochhead said. “There is time to fix the problem, but if we get hit, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.”

Certainly the abnormally wet weather we’ve seen in recent months has helped conditions throughout the basin, but it still isn’t enough to offset the long-term imbalance between demand and supply that exists in our region. Some experts say drought will become the new normal in the West.

So enjoy the moisture we’ve been lucky to receive in recent months. Colorado is now a beautiful shade of green, both figuratively and literally. But never forget: Mother Nature can be fickle when it comes to the weather in our state and the water flowing through it.

We are never truly out of drought, at least when it comes to thinking about using water efficiently.

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