If you’ve been to Lake Mead or have seen recent photos of it, you’ll know what I mean when I refer to the Bathtub Ring. It’s the easily seen line where the water level used to be. Lake Mead is at its lowest level in more than 50 years. Rock formations that hadn’t been seen since Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s are plainly visible. The Bathtub Ring is the best evidence of the extended drought in the Southwest.
That’s why a Drought Contingency Plan had to be created for the Colorado River Basin. Due to the drought, more water is going out of the river than is going into it. The river, which was over-allocated in the best years to begin with, may soon not be able to meet the demands on it. Something’s going to have to be cut back.
One can question the wisdom of making so many people dependent on water from one river. One can question the wisdom of building big cities in the desert. However, that is where we are right now. The water simply isn’t there, and we need to figure out what to do about it.
Let’s consider this to be like your household income. As long as it’s steady or keeping up with inflation, you’re doing okay. But let’s say something causes a drop in that income. You can’t keep spending at the level you had been. You have to figure out what can be cut in order to make ends meet.
There’s an old saying in the West that whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over. I was glad to see so many groups come together to get the Drought Contingency Plan approved. If all these different interests can come together on this, who knows what else we might be able to get done.
The plan may have been completed, approved and signed by Gov. Doug Ducey, but now the hard work of making the plan work begins.
One area where conservation could take place is planting crops that don’t use a lot of water. Cotton is a useful crop, but it takes a lot of water to grow it. The recent legalization of industrial hemp could be part of the solution. You can do many things with hemp that you can also do with cotton, but hemp uses a lot less water.
There are other things that can be done to make our homes, businesses and lives more desert-friendly.
I believe part of the problem is developers and newcomers to the region have lost sight of the fact that this is a desert, and water is scarce. That’s why it’s called a desert. Perhaps we need to start thinking and acting like we’re in a desert. That would be a major step in the right direction.
That sounds almost like a slogan, “Think Desert!”
You only need to look at the Bathtub Ring at Lake Mead to realize how serious the situation has become.