Sabot L'ours (sabotlours) wrote,
Sabot L'ours

The Drought of 2013

I thought I would document the current state of water resources in NM since I didn't have an LJ back in 2002 which was one of the worst years on record. That was a fun time of lawsuits and litigation as we struggled to keep water in the river to protect the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. Our agency had just come off of another major endangered species battle in Oregon, and it looked like this would be another great fight. The phone was ringing off the hook with call from DC. There were meetings after meetings with managers and lawyers. It all culminated with a set of guidelines under which we would operate the river to bring the species back from the brink of extinction. For the past 10 years we have been operating under those guidelines. It hasn't been easy, but we have managed. A new agreement was supposed to be in place this year, but it has been tied up in all sorts of wrangling.

Fast forward to this year. We have had 2 pretty awful snowpack/runoff years back to back and now we're up to three. I signaled the alarm last year that one of our major reservoirs might not have enough water to meet everyone's needs. That has come to pass this year, and now it looks like things will be even worse next year. We just received the runoff forecast for April and it is depressing. Bad numbers got worse. All I could think of was, "Shit just got real, yo!" We're all struggling to see how we can make it through the year, but without wet water, the best laid plans don't mean shit. At least in 2002 the reservoirs were pretty full, so there was stored water to play with. This year everything is pretty much empty. The ground is parched which means any runoff that happens could be sucked up like a sponge before it hits the river. If we get dry, hot winds in the next few weeks, what little moisture that's in the snow will sublimate back up into the atmosphere.

I think the phrase that I will be uttering the most this year (I have already started using it) is from "Aliens," "Game over, man! Game over!" We will probably come to a point where there is nothing we can do but let nature run its course. The reservoirs will be empty and there will be little to no flow in the rivers. People will demand that we take some action, but there will be no options. One of the saddest things is that if we try to be a little proactive now we would have less legal coverage as if we just let the train fall off the tracks. That 10-year old agreement is still the "law" in terms of what we can and cannot do. If we deviate from it to try to make things better, it is a worse option than following it to the letter and having everything collapse sometime in the summer.

So right now I'm gearing up for a very "interesting" year. The good news is that it is job security and I will be on the front lines of a major battle between man and nature. I like drama on LJ, but it will pale in comparison to what is in store when the lawsuits start flying. As Bette Davis said, "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night."
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