Drought Watch 2012: Take heart and take action; set a 90 by 20 goal | SummitDaily.com

Drought Watch 2012: Take heart and take action; set a 90 by 20 goal

Becky Long and Drew Beckwith
Water Caucus coordinator for the Colorado Environmental Coalition;
Water Policy Manager for Western Resource Advocat

Editor’s Note: This is the 15th in a series of articles that the Summit Daily will run over the summer to keep the community informed about ongoing drought conditions in the county.

Think we can’t do anything about the drought? A group rain dance might help, but for guaranteed results we can do something profoundly important. It’s called 90 by 20 (www.90by20.org.)

90 by 20 is a goal of having every household that uses Colorado River water to meet a residential usage of 90 gallons of water per person per day by 2020. Achieving this goal would save enough water to serve Denver for three years and take a huge step toward restoring the river and vital tributaries like the Blue. These rivers are more than just spectacularly beautiful gifts of nature; they are the lifeblood that supply water for Summit County’s recreation, communities, irrigation, ski industries and fisheries.

It’s been a tough year weather- wise, no doubt about it. The snowfall at the beginning of the year was sparse, followed by an historic summer that had Denver sweltering more than ever before: 70 days of 90+ degree heat. In Summit County, the water level in Dillon Reservoir is a daily reminder of how drought threatens our way of life.

But we can do more than commiserate; we can activate our local officials, friends and families. In an era where drought is the “new normal,” we need to begin to use water more efficiently. That is where 90 by 20 comes into play. By meeting the mark along with their neighbors across the region, communities and households can help to ensure we are all using water in the best possible way. Here is how you can help:

> Go to http://www.90by20.org to learn more and sign the pledge to save the precious water of the Colorado.

> Whether you’re a municipal water subscriber in Summit County or simply a lover of our mountain environment, contact your local water officials and the Colorado River Water District to ask they adopt the 90 by 20 plan.

> Use the calculator at 90by20.org to see how much water you use each day and implement your own household water-saving plan utilizing easy solutions such as installing low-flow shower heads, repairing leaky fixtures and planting low water-use gardens.

Yes, it’s been a tough year for Mother Nature and we have all suffered through drought, fires and the consequences of less moisture. For sure let’s pray, dance, cross our fingers and perform whatever other gesture we can think of to have an early fall and lots of snow this winter. But to leave as little to chance as possible, pledge to honor the 90 by 20 goal and help make sure those charged with safeguarding water usage along the Colorado are doing the same. The more water we save today, the less we need to worry about drought and where our water will come from tomorrow.

Look for this column every Monday throughout the summer. Articles will

focus on drought, water conservation and the perspectives/realities of water management in Summit County.

Due to drought conditions in the Blue River watershed, water providers in Summit County are implementing increased levels of water conservation. Please go to your water provider’s website to see how these changes will affect you. For additional water conservation tips, visit: http://www.blueriverwatershed.org.

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