U.S. Water News Online
AURORA, Colo. -- Maggie Gomez is running the dishwasher a
little less often and tells her three children to turn off the faucet
when they brush their teeth.
Laura and Dumitru Vlaiduc are delaying plans to sod the back yard
of their 6-month-old house until next year. Neighbor Anne McClain is
planning to take a xeriscaping class to learn how to landscape with
drought-tolerant plants and rock beds.
``Basically, we've just been waiting on the rain that never seems
to come,'' Laura Vlaiduc said.
Water restrictions in this Denver suburb and several other cities
and counties are a stark sign of a drought that has been building for
four years, sending some reservoirs to their lowest levels in 54
Empty docks sit high above the dusty dirt floors of some
reservoirs where the water has receded. Golf courses are patched with
brown grass. Snow is scant across the peaks of the Rockies.
Colorado's snowfall was below average in February, March and
April, resulting in a continued decrease in the snowpack, which was
recently 14 percent.
The snowpack percentage is measured against a 30-year average.
Melting snow contributes about 80 percent of the water in rivers,
streams, lakes and reservoirs, which comprise much of the state's
water supply. Eight major Colorado river systems also provide water
to 10 western states.
Across the West, drought conditions in New Mexico, Arizona,
Montana and Wyoming are causing plants to die, animals to search
harder for food and residents to watch their water use.
The dry conditions also have triggered an early start to the
wildfire season. More than 420 wildfires have burned about 22,100
acres in Colorado this year, according to the Rocky Mountain Area
Coordinating Center of the National Interagency Fire Center.
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