Study: Cultural shift and centralized planning helped Melbourne adapt to Australia’s Millennium Drought

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Australia’s blistering Millennium Drought spurred wholesale changes in water use.

Regional water czar directed coordinated drought response

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Drought-prone cities and regions around the world can look to Melbourne, Australia to get an idea of what it takes to tackle water shortages during extended dry spells — and to prepare for future droughts, which are projected to become more frequent in some regions as global warming intensifies.

As the worst drought in Australia’s history took hold during the late 1990s, the city’s 4.3 million residents were able to cut their daily water use by half, to just 41 gallons per per person, according to a new study. Continue reading

Feds promise $50 million for Western water conservation

Smart water management and conservation can help reduce drought pressure in the West

Blue River Colorado

Frost-tinged trees gleam in the morning light along the Blue River, a key Colorado River tributary north of Silverthorne, Colorado.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Efforts to conserve water in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin and across the West got a major boost from the Obama administration this week. Federal resource managers this week announced a $50 million investment to  improve water efficiency and conservation in California and 11 other western states. Continue reading

Global warming: Risk of exposure to extreme heat waves is growing dramatically

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Warm enough!

Population growth in warm zones is a big part of the equation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Extreme heat kills more people than any other type of extreme weather, and that mortality could increase significantly in coming decades as the Earth warms under a blanket of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Americans’ exposure to extreme heat could increase  four- to six-fold by 2050, a new study concludes, explaining that it’s not just the heat — the country’s population is  growing especially fast in the hottest regions of the country. Continue reading

Can a water plan save the Colorado River?

In-depth coverage of the Colorado water plan is unfolding in a new series of stories for the Colorado Independent

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Gotta love that Colorado River. Want to help save it? Conserve! @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado’s creeping water crisis isn’t as dramatic as a wildfire or a flood, but its consequences could be just as severe. State and federal water experts say the state will see a huge gap between supply and demand within a few decades, and possibly sooner if regional drought continues. Continue reading

Drought disaster declared in northwest Colorado

USDA declaration opens door for emergency aid

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Staff Report

FRISCO — While spring snow and rain have slightly eased Colorado water woes, the situation is more serious in the northwestern part of the state, where three large rural counties have been designated as a contiguous disaster areas due to drought.

Senator Michael Bennet announced the designation today, saying that the U.S. Department of Agriculture declaration makes farm operators in thise counties eligible to be considered for federal assistance, including Farm Service Agency emergency loans.

“Producers on Colorado’s western slope have faced drought conditions that are damaging their goods and hurting local economies,” Bennet said. “These disaster designations will allow farmers and ranchers to access critical assistance to help them deal with any losses to crops or livestock.”

Producers in counties designated as primary or contiguous disaster areas are eligible to be considered for FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for assistance. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers and ranchers with additional information.

The drought declaration came after a winter of well-below normal snowfall and near-record warmth in the region.

Colorado: Annual State of the River sessions include vital information on snowpack, stream flows and reservoirs

Colorado River Basin snowpack and streamflow forecasts now similar to 1977, 2002 and 2012 drought years

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Statewide snowpack is just half of average going into the crucial phase of runoff season.

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Don’t miss this year’s State of the River.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Continued drought in the Far West, along with Colorado’s push to develop a first-ever statewide water plan, should be reason enough for Coloradans to take an interest in the state of the Colorado River.

One of the best chances to get a user-friendly update is at the annual State of River meeting, sponsored by the Blue River Watershed Group.

Hands-on water experts will explain how this year’s snowmelt will play out and how that affects operations of Dillon Reservoir and Green Mountain Reservoir — both for water deliveries downstream and for onsite recreational use.

To accommodate a bigger turnout, the State of the River presentation has been moved to the Silverthorne Pavilion (Tuesday, May 5, 6-8 p.m.) Continue reading

Climate: Drought ‘donut’ circles Colorado

Forecast for wet spring helps ease concerns

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A drought donut around Colorado?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Above-average reservoir storage and forecasts for a wet spring season could help keep Colorado out of drought trouble — even though statewide precipitation has been below average for the entire water year to-date, starting last October. As of mid-March, 40 percent of Colorado was classified as being in severe drought conditions, with only 25 percent of the state drought-free. Continue reading

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