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Dead green ash trees (July 2013)

All through our (usually) dry winters, we’ve been beating the drum to get people to winter water their turf AND their trees. With our ongoing drought and irrigation restrictions, we find ourselves in the surprising position of having to remind people to “summer water” their trees.

Most of the trees in our area have been introduced and can have a tough time thriving even when we are not in drought. After several consecutive years of drought, super late hard freezes this year, and watering restrictions, our trees are having a tougher time than ever surviving. Many trees that have been on the edge of survival for the past few years have finally died this year and others are very close (like those trees in the downtown medians with about a quarter of their normal leaf cover). (more…)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m sure it’s no surprise to any of you that we are in the midst of a severe drought (especially not if you’ve been reading this blog!). You may be surprised to find out that we are actually in a worse situation than we were before the 2002 growing season, the first time we had watering restrictions. But here is the scoop; we’ve had two consecutive years of severe drought and two consecutive years of low snowpack. This has left us with 1.5 years of “demand storage” in our reservoirs as of Feb 28 (and by “us,” I mean those who buy their water from Colorado Springs Utilities). The utility company likes to keep at least two years in storage, and they’re sure that if we have another summer similar to last year’s in precipitation levels and heat AND another winter with low snowpack, we will dip below one year’s storage if we don’t take action now. Hence they’re looking for all of us to use 30% less water outdoors than last year. So we will be operating under the stipulations of one of the drought stages outlined in the Water Shortage Ordinance, including water restrictions. (more…)

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Water Exiting the 5.2 Mile Homestake Tunnel Under the Continental Divide (starting its 100+ mile trip to Colorado Springs’ water supply)

Oh, where to start?! Well, I can start with this – most of the state of Colorado is now classified as being in an extreme drought. Droughts are long-term events, and we are still seeing the effects of the previous drought which peaked back in 2002. Have you noticed the many trees that have been cut down in the medians downtown in Colorado Springs? The city cut off watering those tree medians in 2002-2004 and many of those trees have died since then (and others are still in the process of doing so). I fear we will all lose many more trees over the next few years as a result of our current drought.

Because of drought last year, many Colorado farmers lost their crops. And if you happen to buy Colorado-produced beef, you may have noticed prices increased significantly. Ranchers had to sell off cattle because there was not enough water to produce food for them, so the remaining cattle were processed and sold at higher prices. Even if you buy beef and produce from outside of Colorado, you may have noticed higher prices because Colorado is far from alone in experiencing drought. The middle of the country is in drought too, with many farmers having skipped planting their winter wheat for this season (watch those flour prices for evidence of this). (more…)

Mulched garlic

According to the latest report from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, “Extreme drought conditions exist from Colorado Springs and Pueblo to the San Luis Valley and over most of the plains to the southeast of the big metro areas.”

If you live here, this isn’t exactly news. The  fields are turning brown months early, wildflowers are small and sparse , and even the most aggressive weeds are wilting.

Living in the low-rainfall west, we’re used to gardening with minimal water. Xeriscaping is a household word, and basic principles of low-water gardening are widely available.

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