Community Agricultural Alliance: Personal Water Conservation | SteamboatToday.com
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Community Agricultural Alliance: Personal Water Conservation

Sameta Rush/For Steamboat Pilot & Today

The dry summer of 2018 alarmed many people in Northwest Colorado. Thousands of acres burned in areas all around, as fire crews gathered to fight and suppress fires. Kremmling area ranchers were evacuated several times as the Silver Creek Fire blew up. Even the Run Rabbit Run race was rerouted at the last hour to work with fire crews and U.S. Forest Service managers to ensure safety for all involved. 

Sparks flew in both Stagecoach and Hayden. North Routt and the Flat Tops Wilderness Area were hit with lighting strikes. Fires, especially those close to where we live, play and grow our livelihood, combined with a low water year, should get everyone’s attention.

So much discussion ensued over water use after the dry summer months and the start of what impressed as a low snowpack winter. But, was there enough discussion at the personal level for water conservation?

I personally can admit to a leaky water main from the city water source to my home last month. I was mortified that the water was leaking through the corroded, galvanized steel pipe. To my horror, we couldn’t get it fixed for several weeks until the contractor could dig the trench and replace the pipe.

Temporary solution? Shut off the water rather than waste the constant seepage up through the lawn into the street.  It adds up, and I couldn’t consider looking at my friends in agriculture and not consider my part in the equation.

Yes, agriculture uses about 86 percent of Colorado’s total water diversions. Flood irrigation and center pivots, drip irrigation, etc. all employ technologies to promote the highest crop yield with the least amount of water loss.  Ski areas used to use about 500 to 1,000 cubic feet per minute of water, but the industry is gaining in efficiency to now use snowguns that only draw about 18 cfm. But, unless you are in the industry, how do you as an individual address your own water use?

Well, consider that homeowners could install water conserving toilets and showerheads. We could use drip irrigation instead of sprinklers for our gardens. Do you follow the water restriction policies set up in your community, or have you suggested to water administrators that education for water conservation efforts be put in place for everyone? If you do irrigate your lawns, consider irrigating at night and for shorter durations and landscape with drought resistant plants.

Only 2.5 percent of freshwater is on Earth, but only 1 percent is available for human use. As our population continues to grow and more people move to the West, we all must raise our personal awareness for water conservation and contribute to collaboration with the water consortiums in our state. Water education and conservation should be on everyone’s knowledge list, and this year, I am thankful for the historical work that has been done by so many in the past and the direction of unity for water in our future.

At Yampatika, water education is an important piece of our programs. Whether it’s our school-based snow science or adult snowshoe and Ski With A Naturalist programs, snow levels and water conservation are important pieces of life in the Yampa Valley. For more information about Yampatika programs, visit yampatika.org.

Sameta Rush is the youth program manager at Yampatika. 


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