Saturday, August 26, 2006

Drought 2006

The meadow and river, June, 2006

The dock, June 2006

The above photos are what we looked like in June. On this acreage in Albemarle County we had unmeasurable rain in March ... 2 3/8" of rain in April ... 1 1/2" in May ... 7 1/4" in June. That's why we were looking really good in June.

The photos below show you what it looks like today. In July, I measured 1 1/2" of rain and so far for August, I've measured only 1/8" of rain. There is a 30% chance of thunder storms on Monday and Tuesday of next week. And then it will be September. According to local records we have a precipitation deficit of over 11 inches for the year. I would say it's worse right here.

The meadow and river, August 26, 2006

The dock, August 26, 2006

From our living room window we estimate that the river level has fallen about 1 foot this week alone. Given that this is a reservoir for the City of Charlottesville, it will continue to drop as citizens continue to water their lawns, fill their pools and deny that there is a problem.

According to the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, water usage has spiked recently to an average of 13.5 million gallons of water per day, with a record of 14.1 million gallons this past Wednesday. They would like to see usage drop to 12.5 million gallons per day.

That we are only under voluntary water restrictions is disturbing. Mandatory water restrictions should have been put into effect several weeks ago. It seems that our local government is as slow on the uptake as the feds, who for all intents and purposes denied the possible destruction of New Orleans by hurricanes for years. They were forewarned and did nothing. In doing so they have given us a pretty clear picture of how this country operates.

We have acres and acres of upscale developments in this county where inground water irrigation systems automatically water lawns every evening ... even if it is raining. The county appoved a new development of 900 homes recently just up the road from here. More are on the way. It seems to me that before more new homes are built inviting the growth our officials seem to believe is necessary, we should be making sure that we will have enough water to go around.

The so called solutions to our water problems that have been approved by area officials by enlarging the Ragged Mountain Reservoir and piping water over to the Rivanna are years away. The proof of how much it will help is beyond that. Who knows what the number of households in the area will be by then? Who knows if these drought conditions will continue until then? Will there be enough money to make the changes that have been approved?

With Global Warming and the predictions of major climate change, it is time for all of us to start thinking outside of the same old box we've been living in. It is time to open our eyes, to start listening and to take actions that are different from those we've taken before.

Once the water runs out we won't have any to water our lawns or even our house plants. Isn't it time to act now ... BEFORE WE RUN OUT?


brenda said...

What problems will be created by enlarging one reservoir to pipe water to another area? These folks need to wake up and realize that by robbing Peter to pay Paul does not address nor fix the core issue!

Cynthia said...

We are dry folk here in South Texas. We have some water restrictions all year 'round in my town. Now the aquifer is low and more restrictions. Soon, it will drop past another point and even more. And wouldn't you know it. I still see folks spraying to their hearts content. The fine is only $25. It's just not enough to prevent the waste.

Becca said...

How right you are - we need to take action on a lot of things before we "run out" of natural resources.

We have the same issues in Florida - huge, rapid expansion at the expense of the environment. I was slightly heartened because the council just denied permits for two more large housing developments. One tiny step in the right direction.

Powerful post - the photos tell a serious story.

deirdre said...

After living on a well for most of my adult life I'm amazed at how often, and easily, people just turn on the tap and trust the water will always be there. Houses need to be built with ability to divert gray water to other uses. We need to turn off the water while brushing teeth and take shorter showers. There are small adjustments that can make huge differences.