May 1, 2002

            How did you like the color of the recent flier we sent out, the one with “Drought Notice” in big black letters? I’m not asking about the content of the paper (we know you didn’t like that), just the color. The print shop’s chief color coordinator, Jennifer, advised us that bright orange was the best attention-getter. She was evidently right, because several of you have called to ask about those garden seeds, or those young trees, or that load of new sod all waiting to be planted but facing possible extinction by drought. So do you plant it or forget it? I’m sure you are hoping for definitive answers in this newsletter.

            The only safe answer at this point is forget it. As this is written (April 26) many reservoirs on Grand Mesa are not accessible in order to determine the amount of water they contain. Those which have been measured do not provide much encouragement. Most are judged to contain 25% or less of their capacity. There may be a few which fill to 50%, if allowed to fill. There are many which will not fill beyond their present level because the water, instead of being impounded, will be allowed to flow downstream to owners of senior water rights. This is Colorado Water Law, which fills some 2,000 tons of law books. But legalities aside, there is nothing on the mountain to put into the reservoirs. We had a dry summer, a dry fall, and most important, a dry winter. The mountains, in other words, are dry.

            Does this mean we will be forced to embrace draconian water conservation measures to avoid dying of thirst? Of course not. This Association is, and always has been, a DOMESTIC water provider. That means water for drinking, washing, cooking, bathing. These basic needs are what we are obligated to fulfill. Anything beyond that must be considered a luxury, and one which may have to be forgone from time to time as climate dictates.

            There is lots of trendy advice out there, such as don’t leave the water run while rinsing carrots in the sink. Don’t do small laundry loads. Don’t leave the shower run - you know, wet up, turnoff, soap up, turn on, rinse off. Phooey. Or the infamous, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” Yuck. We are nowhere near the extent of water shortage that requires that kind of thinking. And the amount of water saved by such ascetic behavior is minuscule compared to what you would use trying to keep your yard green in the face of a genuine drought. Like we always say, the most important water control valve in your home is the door.

            On May 13, the Board of Directors will consider what measures need to be taken to ensure we do not run out of water. Meanwhile, we are seeking to augment our supply, perhaps by renting water for the summer season. Since the true extent of our stored water is not known, it is hard to predict what type of restrictions on water use, if any, will need to be imposed.

            Whether official restrictions are decreed or not, it is incumbent on all of us to honor Mother Nature. Meanwhile, look for another flier after May 13. We’ll let Jennifer choose the color, based on content. If it’s a soothing blue, the news may be good.