Warmer and drier the new nor­mal

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For Santa Fe, last year was a very odd year weather-wise com­pared to our nor­mals: very, very dry the first half of the year and then al­most nor­mal the rest of the year; and tem­per­a­ture-wise warmer than nor­mal, but a lit­tle less mois­ture over­all.

This is not only true for Santa Fe, but also Al­bu­querque, Taos, and Las Cruces. We may have higher-than-nor­mal snow­fall right now in the moun­tains out­side Santa Fe, but New Mex­ico as a whole is in the midst of a drought that has been go­ing on for nearly two decades. The re­sult is that our reser­voirs are at his­toric lows, the Rio Grande is barely flow­ing in the south­ern part of the state, and cities and farm­ers are get­ting less river wa­ter. Re­gard­less of why, this pat­tern of less rain and higher tem­per­a­tures may be our new nor­mal. Less rain means more wa­ter re­quired dur­ing the ir­ri­ga­tion sea­son for home­own­ers and farm­ers alike. Higher tem­per­a­tures equates to more wa­ter re­quired due to in­creased evap­o­tran­spi­ra­tion by plants and evap­o­ra­tion from the soil

At the Spring 2018 Next Gen­er­a­tion Wa­ter Sum­mit, Jonathan Over­peck de­scribed the pe­riod we may be en­ter­ing as a mega-drought. We could also call it a mega-dry­ing pe­riod. We are get­ting pre­cip­i­ta­tion, but our soils are dry­ing and hard­en­ing due to the in­crease in tem­per­a­tures. Our econ­omy, our way of life, our sur­round­ing beauty all re­quire wa­ter. Con­se­quently, con­serv­ing as much as pos­si­ble is a pru­dent thing to do.

Short term, in­creas­ing mulch and or­ganic mat­ter into the soil helps re­tain more mois­ture and make the soil more pro­duc­tive. Fix­ing leaks when they oc­cur to elim­i­nate wasted wa­ter and mov­ing to smart ir­ri­ga­tion meth­ods and con­trollers to re­duce chronic over­wa­ter­ing will re­duce our wa­ter use.

This.dry­ing trend is pro­jected to con­tinue— see, for ex­am­ple, theWeather 2050 re­port “Amer­ica is warm­ing fast. See how your city’s weather will be dif­fer­ent in just one gen­er­a­tion” at www.vox.com/a/ weather-cli­mate-change-us-cities-glob­al­warm­ing. The fu­ture re­quires a new way of look­ing at wa­ter: smarter, more in­clu­sively, and more holis­ti­cally. Wasted wa­ter is not an op­tion as we look into the fu­ture. We need to pre­serve the wa­ter we cher­ish, and plan­ning for a fu­ture with less wa­ter is the pru­dent thing to do.

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