Warmer and drier the new normal
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.